Jan. 18, 2014
Live Coverage | 2014 Schedule
The Minnesota women’s tennis team will open its 2014 season at the Baseline Tennis Center Sunday with a pair of matches. The Golden Gophers will kick off their season with a noon match against Eastern Michigan and will get right back to work at 6:30 p.m. against Northern Iowa. The Eagles and Panthers will play one another Monday morning.
Kicking Off 2014
In the team’s first season under new head coach Chuck Merzbacher, the Gopher men’s tennis team’s all-time singles wins leader, Minnesota finished the 2013 season with a 10-15 record, including a 3-8 mark in Big Ten conference action. The Gophers return eight players from a year ago, including seven players who combined to play 87.4 percent of the team’s spring dual singles matches.
About Eastern Michigan
The Eagles will also begin their 2014 season this Sunday, following a 9-13 campaign a year ago that included a 4-4 Mid-American Conference record. EMU fell was 0-2 against Big Ten opponents last year, falling 7-0 to Nebraska and 4-3 to Michigan. Six of the eight members of the team are upperclassmen.
About Northern Iowa
UNI will begin its season Sunday night against Minnesota, two days after naming Daniel Finn as the team’s head coach. The Panthers are coming off a 8-11 season that included a 2-5 ledger in the Missouri Valley Conference. Five of the seven members of the Panthers’ team are freshmen.
Against Eastern Michigan
The Gophers are 4-0 all-time against Eastern Michigan, having last competed against the Eagles in 2008. Minnesota won that matchup by a 6-1 score. EMU also competed at the Baseline Tennis Center at the Gopher Invitational fall tournament in December, going 3-1 against Minnesota opponents.
The Gophers’ Jessika Mozia defeated Eastern Michigan’s Nino Mebuke 6-2, 6-2, but Mebuke turned around the following day with a 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (8) over Julia Courter. The Eagles’ Mariya Toncheva also beat Yuliana Umanets of Minnesota, 6-1, 6-0.
Against Northern Iowa
Minnesota’s second match of the season will come against a team it played last season. The Gophers dispatched the Panthers, 7-0, in 2013 and are now 3-0 all-time against them.
Another competitor in the Gopher Invitational, UNI had several of its players take on Minnesota opponents in the fall. The Gophers took went 2-0 in singles against UNI and went 3-2 in doubles. Tereza Brichacova and Paula Rincon Otero were Minnesota’s singles competitors.
After an impressive fall that saw her win nine singles matches, junior Tereza Brichacova is the 65th-ranked player in the nation, according to the ITA. Brichacova won the top flight at the Gopher Invitational and made a run to the quarterfinal round at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championship that included a win over 15th-ranked Samantha Vickers of Tulsa.
Joining Tereza Brichacova this season will be a strong senior class of Natallia Pintusava, Yuliana Umanets, and Pauline Gilbert. Pintusava is coming off her third All-Big Ten selection and Umanets tied Jessika Mozia for the team lead in singles wins for the fall with 10. Julia Courter, Aria Lambert, and Paula Rincon Otero are also coming back and had solid fall seasons.
The Gophers added one freshman in Niagara Falls, Ontario native Maja Vujic. Vujic won seven fall matches, including six wins in her first eight attempts. Joining Vujic will be sophomore and Colorado State transfer Kendall Heitzner. Heitzner of Potomac, Md. went 8-5 in the fall.
Match Format Changes
The ITA Women's Operating Committee has approved and mandated a new ITA Women's Experimental Format to be played from Jan. 1 through the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 10. The dual meet will consist of three doubles matches played first (worth a total of one point), followed by six singles matches, each individual match worth one point. Four points are required to win the team match. The three doubles matches will each consist of one set, with regular scoring and a tiebreaker at 6-all. Once a team has won two doubles matches, the remaining doubles match shall not be completed. Six singles matches will follow the doubles. Each singles match is two out of three sets, with each set using regular scoring, and a match tiebreaker in lieu of the third set.
Gophers Wrap Up Fall Season
Ryba, Safdar and Vujic wrapped up the Gophers fall season this weekend at the Thunderbird Invitational with Vujic picking up two singles wins.
Gophers Add Bihel, Kreinis
Minnesota has signed two student-athletes to National Letter of Intents for the 2016-17 season.
Minne-Tennis Tips: Finishing Your Shot
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