April 3, 2014
The No. 51 Minnesota men's tennis team will continue conference play this weekend when it plays host to the highest-ranked team in the nation, Ohio State, and No. 24 Penn State. The Gophers play the Buckeyes Friday at 3 p.m. and will take on the Nittany Lions Sunday at noon at the Baseline Tennis Center.
Minnesota, which dipped below .500 for a brief stretch, recovered to win three of its last four matches to improve to 9-8. The Gophers earned their first shutout win of the season in their lone match on their Spring Break trip to Florida Gulf Coast before downing Nebraska at home to improve to 2-1 in Big Ten play. They then fell to Purdue before topping Indiana last weekend. The victories at FGCU and at Indiana were their first on the road this season.
About Ohio State
Ohio State comes in to Friday's match with a 21-2 record and an unblemished 6-0 ledger in Big Ten play so far this season. The Buckeyes are led by eighth-ranked singles player Peter Kobelt, who is 14-2 so far at No. 1 singles. Hunter Callahan (97th) and Hunter Metka (109th) are also ranked in singles, combining for a 37-5 mark. Kobelt and Metka make up the country's sixth-ranked doubles combination. They are 13-3 together at No. 1.
About Penn State
Penn State, which plays Wisconsin Friday, enters the weekend on a six-match winning streak. The Nittany Lions are 17-2 on the year with a 4-1 conference record. Stakhovsky has led the charge in singles, going 15-2 at the No. 1 spot to earn a No. 50 ranking in the country. He and Russell Bader are the 28th-ranked doubles tandem with a 12-4 record. PSU has another ranked doubles duo in Michael Reilly and Chris Young, who are a perfect 10-0 and sit at No. 54.
Against the This Weekend's Opponents
Entering the weekend, the Gophers are 40-27 against Ohio State, but have dropped the teams' last 13 matches, last beating the Buckeyes in 2003. Minnesota is 19-4 against Penn State all-time and has won its last five matches against the Nittany Lions.
Tough at the Top
The Gophers lineup has been especially strong in the top four spots this season. At positions Nos. 1-4, Minnesota has posted a 41-21 record. Leandro Toledo, the 66th-ranked singles player in the nation, is 13-4 at No. 1 and fellow German Ruben Weber is 9-5 at No. 2. At No. 3, Jack Hamburg has a amassed a 9-6 ledger, while his doubles partner, Mathieu Froment has gone 8-6 at No. 4.
Hamburg and Froment Keep Rolling
Jack Hamburg and Mathieu Froment have been a force to be reckoned with at No. 1 doubles this season. The duo lost its first completed match of the season, but has won 11-straight since to earn a 11-1 record and reach the No. 19 spot in the national rankings. The tandem got as high as No. 16.
Match Format Update
The experimental scoring format using to begin the college tennis season has reverted back to the old system as of Feb. 10 for the women. From this point forward, there will be three doubles matches using eight-game pro-sets and the team winning at least two of the matches gets one team point. If the pro-set is tied 7-7, a seven-point tiebreaker is played. If one team wins two doubles matches, the third match will go unfinished.
Six singles matches are then played and each are worth one team point. The matches are best-of-three sets with tiebreakers played to seven points if the set is tied 6-6. Once a team has reached four team points, it has clinched the team victory. The remaining matches are completed with a 10-point match tiebreaker played in place of a third set.