Minnesota earned a spot in its first Big Ten championship since 2003on Saturday, defeating No. 2 seed Indiana 4-0 at the Neilsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, Wis. The third-seeded and 19th-ranked Gophers, who became the first lower-seeded team to win a 2011 Big Ten Tournament match, will play in against five-time defending champion and top-seeded Ohio State at noon on Sunday.
No. 26-ranked Indiana defeated Minnesota 4-3 at the Baseline Tennis Center 22 days ago, but the Gophers were without the aid of lineup regular Sebastian Gallego. Gallego played in Saturday's match, but did not factor in the decision as both his doubles and singles matches were cut short.
For the second consecutive day, the Gophers won the doubles competition against a team that beat them in doubles play in the regular season.
Just like in Friday's 4-0 win over Wisconsin, Tobias Wernet and Juan Pablo Ramirez kicked off the match with a doubles win, defeating Isade Juneau and Will Kendall of Indiana 8-6 at the third position.
Needing just one more win to lock up the first point of the match, Rok Bonin and Julian Dehn came through for the second day in a row with an 8-6 win at No. 2.
As was the case for many matches at the beginning of the season and in the team's quarterfinal match against the Badgers, Brendan Ruddock ignited Minnesota in singles play with a straight-set win against Stephen Vogl.
Wernet, who is ranked 66th by the ITA, needed to win a 7-5 tiebreaker to win the first set of his match against Jeremy Langer, but cruised to a 6-1 second-set victory to put UM up by three with a win at the top position. Dehn sent Minnesota to the championship by polishing off a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Dimitrige Tasic at No. 6.
Gallego, Bonin, and Phillip Arndt all had tight matches abandoned due to match decision.
The Gophers last played Ohio State on UM's Senior Day on April 17, falling 7-0. The Buckeyes are undefeated in Big Ten competition and have only dropped five total singles matches and three total doubles matches in conference action up to this point. One of those doubles losses came when Bonin and Dehn dropped OSU's Chase Buchanan and Shuhei Uzawa 8-4.
The third-ranked Buckeyes have a lineup that features eight ranked singles players and three ranked doubles duos. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Blaz Rola and 2010 All-American Chase Buchanan are both ranked in the nation's top ten. The Gophers last beat Ohio State in 2003 in the Big Ten semifinals.
The Big Ten Network will televise Sunday's match on tape delay on Saturday, May 7, at 5 p.m.
Big Ten Tournament Semifinal
No. 19 Minnesota 4, No. 26 Indiana 0
April 30, 2011 • Nielsen Tennis Stadium • Madison, Wis.
1. No. 66 Tobias Wernet (MINN) def. Jeremy Langer (IU) 7-6 (5), 6-1
2. Rok Bonin (MINN) vs. Santiago Gruter (IU) 2-6, 5-4, unfinished
3. Sebastian Gallego (MINN) vs. No. 108 Josh MacTaggart (IU) 2-6, 4-4, unfinished
4. Phillip Arndt (MINN) vs. Isade Juneau (IU) 7-5, 3-6, unfinished
5. Brendan Ruddock (MINN) def. Stephen Vogl (IU) 6-3, 6-4
6. Julian Dehn(MINN) def. Dimitrige Tasic (IU) 6-2, 6-4
1. No. 67 Phillip Arndt/Sebastian Gallego (MINN) vs. No. 45 Jeremy Langer/Santiago Gruter (IU) 7-8, unfinished
2. Rok Bonin/Julian Dehn (MINN) def. Josh MacTaggart/Stephen Vogl (IU) 8-6
3. Tobias Wernet/Juan Pablo Ramirez (MINN) def. Isade Juneau/Will Kendall (IU) 8-6
-Indiana 23-7, 9-1 Big Ten; National ranking No. 26
-Minnesota 19-4, 8-2 Big Ten; National ranking No. 19
-Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (5,1,6)
-No. 1 doubles and Nos. 2, 3, and 4 in singles were abandoned due to match decision
-No. 3 seed Minnesota advances past No. 2 seed Indiana to face No. 1 seed Ohio State on Sunday at noon.