Jan. 31, 2014
The Minnesota women's tennis team will play away from home for the first time this weekend after staking itself to a 4-0 start to the season with wins over Eastern Michigan, Northern Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota State. The schedule picks up with a neutral site match against Washington State in Missoula, Mont. Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT). Before returning home, the Gophers will take on homestanding Montana in their first true road match of the season Sunday at 10 a.m. (CT).
Minnesota has gotten off to its first 4-0 start since 1997 and has done so in convincing fashion. Through its first two weeks of play, the Gophers have only dropped one point with a loss in singles and have won every doubles match they've played. With 7-0 wins in each of its last three contests, Minnesota has shut out three consecutive opponents for the first time since 1995.
About Washington State
Washington State of the Pac-12 conference enters the weekend with a 3-1 record after finishing 2013 with a ledger of 14-12. The Cougars split their two matches in Hawaii a week ago, falling to Hawaii Pacific 4-3 then rebounding for a 4-3 win over Hawaii the following day. WSU began the year with victories over Montana State and Idaho.
Montana is beginning its season this weekend with a home match against Washington State. The Grizzlies are coming off a 15-8 campaign in 2013 and are led by junior and All-Big Sky First Team selection Precious Gbadamosi, who enters her junior year with 60 career wins.
Against the Competition
Minnesota's weekend-opening contest against Washington State will be the first in the schools' history. Sunday's match against the host Montana will mark the fourth time the Gophers have faced the Grizzlies. Minnesota is 3-0 against Montana, with all-time series wins in 2004, 2008, and a 4-3 win last season at the Baseline Tennis Center.
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. She is off to a 4-0 start after straight-set wins at No. 2 against Eastern Michigan and at No. 1 versus Northern Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota State.
Hard to Beat at Home
All four of Minnesota's victories this season have come at home. The Gophers have been tough to beat at the Baseline Tennis Center under U of M alum Chuck Merzbacher--in one-plus season with Merzbacher at the helm, the team is 12-3 at its own facility.
The Gophers look improved thus far in doubles competition. Through two weeks, the team has swept all four doubles competitions in which it has played. After going 32-32 in dual-match doubles play in 2013, the Maroon and Gold is 12-0 to start this season.
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.