Nov. 28, 2012
The 2012 fall season showcased a promising future for the Minnesota Men’s Tennis team. Through six tournament events, two of which were hosted at the Baseline Tennis Center, the Golden Gophers found much success in the doubles competition, while multiple individuals excelled in singles to show signs of good things to come this spring.
With the exception of sophomore Jack Hamburg, who sat out to recover from a previous injury, all athletes on the roster were able to compete in at least two tournaments during the season.
The fall campaign began in Philadelphia, Pa., where the Gophers dominated the competition. Juan Pablo Ramirez, Tucker Saxon, Brendan Ruddock, and Eric Frueh participated in the event. Ramirez and Saxon joined forces to defeat five teams en route to a doubles championship. Ruddock and Frueh paired up as the second Gopher duo and advanced to the semifinals with three consecutive wins before falling in a close battle to Brown’s Will Spector and Justin To. Ramirez and Saxon carried their success into the singles side, pushing to the semi and quarterfinal rounds, respectively.
The team switched gears to USTA/ITA action in October. The first stop was the ITA All-American Tournament in Tulsa, Okla. Gopher powerhitters Leandro Toledo and Rok Bonin made a name for themselves and put the Minnesota program on the map by marking the first time in nearly a decade that more than one athlete from Minnesota has qualified for the event. While Toledo was received an automatic bid, Bonin earned his spot in the main draw after a 3-0 run through the qualifying rounds. Bonin defeated Pepperdine’s Finn Tearney in the first round of the main draw, but fell to Andre Dome of Cal Poly in the second. Toledo went 0-2 against his opponents.
Six Gophers competed at the USTA/ITA Central Regional Championships, which was the first of two events hosted at the Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. Freshman Ruben Weber saw his first action as a Golden Gopher and went undefeated in qualifying to join Gopher teammates Brendan Ruddock, Leandro Toledo, Juan Pablo Ramirez, Mathieu Froment, and Rok Bonin in the main draw of the competition.
All six tallied singles wins on day one, but only Bonin and Toledo remained for the quarterfinals. Two of the three Gopher teams defeated opponents in the second round of doubles competition. Eric Frueh and Brendan Ruddock met Bradley’s Ashton Kalhorn and Hamish Weerasinghe to an 8-5 defeat. Rok Bonin and Leandro Toledo also teamed up to edge out Tomislav Gregurovic and Ruillermo Nicol of Wichita State, 9-7.
Bonin and Toledo would press forward to the semifinals but ended their run with a loss to eventual champions Guillermo Alcorta and Axel Alverez (Oklahoma). Toledo defeated Alverez in the semifinals and took on Alcorta in the title match, ultimately falling in two despite consistent aggressive play.
A little over a week later on the first weekend of November, the Maroon and Gold found themselves again on their home turf for the Gopher Invitational. The round robin tournament proved to be another arena in which Minnesota doubles could shine. Rok Bonin and Mathieu Froment capped off a 5-0 run on the weekend with a championship win in the top flight of competition. The team secured the title with an 8-6 victory over Nebraska’s team of Andre Stenger and Dusty Boyer. As the other Minnesota duo, Eric Frueh and Juan Pablo Ramirez fell to Brandon Videtich and Bradford Zitsch, also of Nebraska, to end the tournament with a 4-1 record. Ruben Weber had another strong run, finishing singles action with a 3-1 record, while Frueh turned in a 4-1 singles performance on the weekend.
With his second-place finish at Regionals, Toledo earned a spot at the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships on Nov. 8. He was the first Gopher to qualify since Harsh Mankad won the title in 2002. Toledo overpowered John Lamble of Santa Clara by scores of 6-4, 6-0 to open his run in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. In the second round, Toledo fell in a heartbreaking loss to Giron (2-6, 7-5, 6-3). After winning the first set, Toledo held the 5-4 lead in the second. Giron pressured Toledo with big plays to comeback for the win and used his momentum to capture the match in three.
The final tournament of the 2012 fall season took place in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. at the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic. Mathieu Froment, Juan Pablo Ramirez, and Ruben Weber represented the Maroon and Gold at the weekend tournament.
Ramirez and Froment teamed up for the competition and rode to a 3-0 record, earning a spot in the final. First, the duo defeated Guillermo DeVilchez and Everett Dzib of USF, 8-6. They followed with an 8-6 victory over Furman's Mellow and Browne. In the semifinals, Froment and Ramirez overpowered the No. 1 seeded team from Pepperdine by a score of 8-4. The pair capped off their run with a second-place finish, falling 8-2 to the tournament’s No. 6 seed Gordon Watson and Billy Federhofer of Florida.
The Gophers will begin the spring season when they host Northern Illinois at the Baseline Tennis Center on Sunday, Jan. 20. Five days later, the team travels to Athens, Ga. for the ITA Kick-off Weekend.
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