Gophers Hang Tough in Loss to Third-Ranked Texas
Minnesota hung tough with third-ranked Texas, but the Longhorns eventually prevailed 4-0 to end the Gophers' season in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday in Austin, Texas.
The Gophers took two singles matches into three sets and had another end in a second-set tiebreaker in the loss that ended their season at 14-11 overall. All of Minnesota's losses this season came to teams in the top 30 of the national rankings. It is the second straight year the Gophers have advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament after falling to eventual national champion Southern California last season.
Texas, which has four ranked players in its singles lineup, won its 14th consecutive match and improved to 26-2 overall. The Longhorns are one of 16 teams that advance to the NCAA finals May 21-26 in Athens, Ga. where they will encounter a Big 12 rival as they face either Oklahoma or Texas Tech. Texas also improved to 5-0 all-time against Minnesota as the teams met for the first time since 2006.
The Longhorns won the opening doubles match as Ed Corrie and Kellen Damico defeated Sebastian Gallego and Dino Bilankov 8-3 at No. 2. The Gophers bounced back with a win from Phillip Arndt and Rok Bonin at No. 3 by an 8-3 count over Jean Andersen and Vasko Mladenov. Texas clinched the doubles point when the nation's sixth-ranked tandem of Dimitar Kutrovsky and Josh Zavala downed Julian Dehn and Tobias Wernet 8-4 at No. 1.
Kutrovsky, the nation's 10th-ranked singles player, gave Texas a 2-0 lead when he beat Gallego 6-4, 6-0 at No. 1. Mladenov followed with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Brendan Ruddock at No. 6 and Damico clinched the match with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Bonin. Damico won the tiebreaker by a 7-2 score.
Minnesota was faring well in the other three singles matches, which were all suspended. Arndt won his first set over Andersen and was tied in the third set with a 6-4, 1-6, 3-3 score at No. 4. Bilankov also won his first set 7-5 over Zavala, who came back to force a third set with a 6-2 second set win at No. 5. Wernet lost his opening set to 20th-ranked Corrie 7-5, but was leading 5-3 in the second set when the match ended.
#3 Texas 4, #35 Minnesota 0