An Easter Sunday showdown with second-ranked Ohio State highlights a pair of weekend home matches against nationally-ranked teams for the Minnesota men's tennis team.
The Gophers are ranked 44th in the country and bring an 8-6 overall record and 1-1 Big Ten mark into the weekend. Before their showdown with the Buckeyes, Minnesota hosts 58th-ranked Penn State on Friday at 3 p.m. at the Baseline Tennis Center. The match with Ohio State is set for Sunday at noon.
Minnesota is coming off a three-match weekend in Michigan that saw the Gophers post a 2-1 record with wins over Western Michigan and Michigan State sandwiched around a loss to Michigan.
Tobias Wernet won both of his Big Ten matches last week, beating 42nd-ranked Jason Jung of Michigan and Michigan State's top singles player, Austin Brooks. Wernet is now 15-9 overall and ranked 105th in the country.
Sebastian Gallego is ranked 66th in the country and has played a treacherous schedule with eight of his last 13 matches against ranked opponents. Gallego has won three of those matches against ranked foes and is now 14-7 overall. He and Phillip Arndt are 10-3 at No. 1 doubles this spring and have won six of their last seven matches to rank 27th nationally.
Doubles has been a key to the Gophers' success this season as they are 8-1 when winning the doubles point and 0-5 when they fail to capture the point. The only exception was when they took the doubles point in an eventual loss to Louisville.
Penn State is 12-4 overall, but has lost three of its last four matches with all three losses coming against ranked teams. The Nittany Lions are 1-1 in Big Ten play, having beaten Purdue during a nine-match winning streak before a 7-0 loss last weekend at Ohio State. Penn State's top singles player is Eddie Bourchier, who boasts a 17-6 overall record, but has lost his last three matches.
Ohio State has won 10 straight matches and is 18-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes, who play at Iowa on Friday, have won 55 straight Big Ten matches and 101 straight non-tournament dual matches. Their only loss was a 4-1 setback at top-ranked Virginia on Feb. 14 in the ITA national indoor semifinals.
The Buckeyes feature five ranked players, led by 12th-ranked Chase Buchanan, who is 16-4 overall. Justin Kronauge is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week and ranked 36th in the country with a 21-3 overall record.