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Date: May 11-12, 2012
Location: Headington Family Tennis Center (Norman, Okla.)
Friday, May 11
11 a.m. - Tulsa vs. Minnesota
2 p.m. - Oklahoma vs. UMKC
Friday, May 12
2 p.m. - Regional Final
The Gophers finished the regular season 13-7 overall and 8-3 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is making it fourth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and will play No. 20 Tulsa at 11 a.m. on Friday in the first round in Norman, Okla. The Gophers are ranked No. 35 entering the tournament. UMKC and No. 10 and host Oklahoma round out the regional field. The winner of the Minnesota-Tulsa match will play either Oklahoma or UMKC in the regional final.
No. 20 Tulsa is 18-8 this year and won its sixth Conference USA championship in the last seven years. The Golden Hurricane has won eight straight matches and twelve of its last 13 matches. Tulsa is led by Conference USA player of the year Ashley Watling, who is ranked No. 77. The senior plays third singles and is 23-9 this year (12-1 at the third position). Clifford Marsland (No. 97) and Japie De Klerk (No. 127) also help solidify Tulsa’s lineup. Marsland and Watling combine to form the No. 11 doubles team in the nation. Tulsa has competed in the NCAA Tournament each of the last seven years, and reached the round of 16 for the first time in program history last season by defeating Oklahoma and Texas on back-to-back days in Norman.
Minnesota vs. Tulsa
Despite both being in the ITA Central Region, Minnesota and Tulsa have only met three times. The Gophers lead the overall series 2-1. However, the teams have not faced one another since 1993. Minnesota won that meeting 6-1.
Minnesota vs. Oklahoma and UMKC
If the Gophers beat Tulsa they will face either Oklahoma or UMKC in the regional final. Minnesota has never played UMKC and is 0-2 all-time against Oklahoma. Oklahoma won 4-3 in 2008 in Minneapolis and prevailed 5-2 in 2010 in Norman.
Minnesota is playing in its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament. The Gophers are only one of four Big Ten teams to qualify for the past four NCAA tournaments, joining Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State.
Minnesota was upset in the first round of the tournament last year 4-3 by Fresno State in Berkeley, Calif. In 2010, Minnesota beat Arizona in the first round and then lost to Texas in the second round. In 2009, the Gophers topped New Mexico in the first round and then fell to Southern California in the second round.
Last Time Out
In the team’s last match, Minnesota dropped a 4-3 decision to 27th-ranked Indiana in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament in Evanston, Ill., The Gophers beat then No. 31 Indiana 4-3 on the road in the regular season, but the Hoosiers eliminated the Gophers from the postseason conference tournament.
Five Gophers have reached double digits in singles wins this spring. Senior Julian Dehn leads the way with a 14-5 record and is followed by Rok Bonin, who is 13-6. Leandro Toledo is 12-7, while Phillip Arndt is 11-8 and Jack Hamburg is 10-6. Toledo is Minnesota’s only ranked player. He checks in at No. 87.
The top pairing of Rok Bonin and Julian Dehn anchor Minnesota’s doubles teams. The duo is ranked No. 34 and is 15-4 in dual matches this year (18-6 overall). They are 13-4 at the first position and 2-0 at the second slot. Leandro Toledo and Juan Pablo Ramirez found success since being paired up together this spring. They went 13-3 in dual matches, which included a 9-2 mark in the Big Ten. Toledo and Ramirez are 3-3 at No. 2 doubles and were 10-0 at the third position. Phillip Arndt and Jack Hamburg play third doubles for Minnesota and are 7-9 this year.
Against Ranked Foes
Entering the NCAA Tournament, Minnesota has a 7-7 mark against ranked opponents this spring. The
Gophers will play their 15th match against a ranked foe when they face No. 20 Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Minnesota’s seven wins against ranked opponents came against No. 28 Michigan, No. 31 Indiana, No. 39 Drake, No. 40 Virginia Tech, No. 61 Arizona, No. 71 Nebraska and No. 74 Purdue.
The Gophers will play their fifth neutral-site match of the season when they meet Tulsa in Norman, Okla., in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday. Minnesota is 1-3 in neutral-site matches this year. The Gophers lost to No. 27 San Diego and No. 32 LSU in the ITA Kick-Off event in Berkeley, Calif. Minnesota beat No. 39 Drake 5-2 at the Rochester Athletic Club in Rochester, Minn., and lost 4-3 to No. 27 Indiana in the Big Ten tournament in Evanston, Ill.