Women's Tennis Opens Season With Marshall, Kentucky Women's Tennis Opens Season With Marshall, Kentucky
The Minnesota women's tennis team begins its season with a pair of matches this weekend against Marshall and Kentucky. The Gophers travel to Huntington, W. Va., this Thursday and then play host Marshall at 4 p.m. on Friday. Minnesota returns to the courts for a noon neutral-site match against Kentucky on Saturday before heading home.
Marshall, who is ranked No. 53, is 2-0 on the season after a 7-0 win against Morehead State and a 6-1 win against Eastern Michigan on Jan. 14. Marshall senior Michaela Kissell is ranked No. 27 and is the only ranked singles player for the Thundering Herd. Kissell and Dominica Zaprazna are ranked No. 63 in doubles for Marshall. Kentucky, which opens its season against Minnesota, is unranked and does not have any ranked players.
The Gophers are 2-1 all-time against Marshall and won 4-3 in their most recent meeting on Feb. 13, 2009 at Baseline Tennis Center. Kentucky owns an 8-2 record against Minnesota, but the Gophers defeated the Wildcats 4-3 last year on Jan. 22, 2010 at home.
Minnesota is ranked 72nd and enters the season after fairing well in fall competition. The fall season, which consisted of six tournaments in five different states for the Gophers, had many notable highlights. At the Wildcat Invitational in Evanston, Ill., doubles duos Alessandra Ferrazzi and Alexa Palen and Magdalena Wiecha and Natallia Pintusava won their respective flights. Two weeks later, Pintusava went on a magnificent run to reach the ITA Regional singles final.
Pintusava, who is a freshman from Minsk, Belarus, was 11-5 in fall competition and begins the season ranked No. 51 in singles. She is the only Gopher ranked in the top 125, but is the second-highest ranked player from the Big Ten Conference (senior Denise Muresan from Michigan is ranked No. 11).
Ferrazzi, who is a native of Brescia, Italy, returns to the Gopher lineup after being named to the All-Big Team last season as a junior. She was the first Gopher selected to the All-Big Ten squad since Ashley Schellhas in 2007. Ferrazzi was also named the team's Most Valuable Player last year after she recorded 24 singles victories and 21 doubles wins.
Ferrazzi and sophomore Alexa Palen are ranked No. 84 in doubles and were 8-5 in the fall. One of their losses was because of injury, but the other four all came against teams ranked in the top 30 including a setback to the No. 1 doubles team in the nation.
In addition to Pintusava, Ferrazzi and Palen, seniors Mariana Spilca and Peta Forsyth, junior Magdalena Wiecha, sophomore Doron Muravnik and freshman Yuliana Umanets will represent the Gophers in their first two dual matches of the season. Umanets joined the team in January.
Minnesota, who was 10-14 last season and 3-7 in the Big Ten, plays at Northwestern (Feb. 5) and Marquette (Feb. 6) before competing its first home match of the year on Friday, Feb. 11 against Oklahoma.