March 30, 2012
The Minnesota men’s tennis team takes its seven-match winning streak on the road this weekend as the Gophers visit Northwestern and Illinois. The Gophers face the No. 53 Wildcats on Saturday, before playing at No. 17 Illinois on Sunday.
The Gophers, who began the year 1-3, are now 8-3 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is 4-3 against ranked competition and has won four straight matches against ranked teams. However, this weekend will be a test for the Gophers as they are only 1-1 in road matches and are a combined 5-9 in all matches on the road this year.
A year ago, the Gophers beat Northwestern 6-1 at home and upset then-No. 18 Illinois 4-3 on the road. The win at Illinois was the first for Minnesota since 1996 and ended a 19-match losing streak to the Illini.
Minnesota, which is ranked No. 36, has not lost a dual match since it fell 6-1 at then-No. 36 Louisville on Feb. 4. Since then the Gophers have won seven straight matches and have combined to go 31-11 in singles and 19-2 in doubles.
Minnesota has won eight straight doubles points and is paced by the tandem of Rok Bonin and Julian Dehn. The No. 1 pairing for the Gophers is ranked No. 22 and is a perfect 10-0 in dual matches. In the last two years, they have combined to go 29-3.
However, they are not the only undefeated Gopher doubles team. Freshman Leandro Toledo and sophomore Juan Pablo Ramirez are a perfect 7-0 in doubles during the spring season. All of their matches have been contested at No. 3 doubles.
Phillip Arndt and Jack Hamburg recently won five straight matches in doubles play and are 5-3 this spring.
In singles, No. 80 Toledo has won seven straight matches and is 8-2 this spring. Bonin is also 8-2, while Dehn is 7-3 for the Gophers.
Northwestern is 9-6 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats have conference wins against Iowa and Nebraska, but lost 5-2 at home against Illinois.
Northwestern is led by sophomore Raleigh Smith. He is 12-3 in dual matches and is the lone Wildcat to win all three of his Big Ten matches.
Illinois is 9-3 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten with wins against Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern. The Illini’s most recent win was a 4-3 home upset against No. 17 Texas A&M.
Senior Dennis Nevolo, who is ranked No. 4, leads Illinois with a 21-4 record (8-2 this spring). Roy Kalmanovich, who is 7-4 in spring singles play, is ranked No. 31. Thy combine to form the no. 45 doubles team, which is 4-1 in dual matches.
After this weekend, the Gophers host Penn State (April 6) and No. 2 Ohio State (April 8) at Baseline Tennis Center.