Gophers Fall To Illinois in Big Ten Quarterfinals
April 27, 2012
The Minnesota women’s tennis team had its run in the Big Ten tournament come to an end on Friday, as the sixth-seeded Gophers lost 4-0 to No. 3 seed Illinois in the tournament quarterfinals. The 20th-ranked Illini advanced to the semifinals, while Minnesota returns home and will await its NCAA destiny. The NCAA selection show is at 4 p.m. on May 1.
The Gophers, who are ranked No. 34, are expected be one of the 64 teams selected to participate in the NCAA tournament. Minnesota has not played in the NCAA tournament since 2003, when is lost 4-3 to Pepperdine on May 9 in Los Angeles.
Minnesota beat Iowa 4-2 on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in a match that was delayed nearly four hours because of inclement weather. The Gophers trailed the Hawkeyes 2-0, but then rattled off four straight wins in singles play to secure a matchup against Illinois.
With the win over Iowa, Minnesota secured its highest win total since its 18-7 season in 2003 by staking claim to its 16th victory of the season. The Gophers also won a postseason match for the third time in four seasons after being eliminated in the first round in five consecutive years.
The Illini, who received a bye past the first round of the tournament, beat the Gophers 6-1 in the regular season and on April 1 at Baseline Tennis Center. Freshman Julia Courter picked up Minnesota’s lone win, which came at No. 6 singles against fellow Georgia-native Breanne Smutko.
In Friday’s match, Illinois jumped out to a 1-0 lead with doubles victories at the second and third positions. The match at No. 1 between the No. 52 duo Natallia Pintusava and Magdalena Wiecha and No. 53 Marisa Lambropoulos and Melissa Kopinski went unfinished.
In singles, Kopinski gave Illinois a 2-0 lead by defeating All-Big Ten First Team honoree Pintusava in straight sets and Rachel White beat Aria Lambert to put the Illini on the brink of a semifinal berth.
The match ended when No. 102-ranked Allison Falkin topped Minnesota’s singles wins leader, Doron Muravnik, 6-4, 6-0. Wiecha, Courter, and Tereza Brichacova had their matches abandoned after Illinois clinched the overall win.
The loss dropped the Gophers to 4-6 against Illinois in Big Ten Tournament play. Minnesota will now seek its first-ever NCAA Tournament win in its fifth appearance in the event.
April 27, 2012