A pair of highly-ranked opponents visit the Baseline Tennis Center this weekend as Minnesota opens its home season against Kentucky and North Carolina.
The 69th-ranked Gophers take on 28th-ranked Kentucky on Friday at 6 p.m. and host 18th-ranked North Carolina on Sunday at 11 a.m. Kentucky and North Carolina also square off against each other on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Baseline Tennis Center. There is no admission charge for any of the matches and live stats will be available for both of Minnesota's matches at gophersports.com.
Minnesota is coming off a 4-3 victory over Iowa State in its season opener last weekend, claiming the final three singles matches to pull out the victory. Alexa Palen and Alessandra Ferrazzi both won in singles and doubles, while Doron Muravnik had the clinching victory by coming back from a set down to win at No. 6 singles.
Tijana Koprivica leads the Gophers for the season with a 14-6 singles record, while Ferrazzi is 12-6. Palen has now won five straight matches and owns a 10-3 season record. Koprivica was ranked 111th in the first individual rankings of the spring season, but dropped her opening match against Iowa State.
Kentucky is playing its first match of the season on Friday. The Wildcats were 13-11 last season and lost to top-ranked Northwestern in the second round of the NCAA tournament after beating Ohio State in the opening round.
Kentucky and Minnesota are playing for the first time since Feb. 13, 2006 when the Wildcats posted a 7-0 win in Chapel Hill, N.C., also in a triangular weekend with North Carolina. Minnesota is 1-8 all-time against the Wildcats, posting its only win on Oct. 30, 1983 with a 5-4 win at Kentucky.
North Carolina opened the year with a 7-0 win over Winthrop on Wednesday. The Tar Heels also reached the second round of last year's NCAA tournament after compiling a 19-11 season record. Senior Sanaz Marand is currently ranked 25th in the country and went 29-14 last year, reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA singles championships. She also forms the nation's sixth-ranked doubles team with Sophie Grabinski.
Minnesota played at North Carolina in 2008 and is 0-11 all-time against the Tar Heels. The Gophers competed in North Carolina's fall invitational in November, but did not compete in any individual matches against any Tar Heel opponents.