The Minnesota women's tennis team will travel south to take on Northwestern and Marquette this weekend. The Gophers will open Big Ten play on Saturday against the 20th-ranked Wildcats in Evanston, Ill., before heading to Milwaukee, Wis., to face the Golden Eagles in non-conference action on Sunday.
Minnesota lost its only meeting of the season last year to the Wildcats 6-1 and last defeated the 12-time defending Big Ten champions in 2003. Minnesota made a trip to Evanston in early October to compete in the Wildcat Invitational. Minnesota's Peta Forsyth dispatched Northwestern's Natalie Edell and NU's Nida Hamilton defeated Minnesota's Emilie Renault in singles play in the fall tournament.
The Gophers have historically had more success against Marquette, compiling a 5-1 all-time record against the Golden Eagles. The last time Minnesota played MU was in 2002, when the Gophers won a 5-2 match in Minneapolis.
Last weekend, the Gophers traveled to Huntington, W.Va. for their first two matches of the spring season. They dropped their first decision against No. 53 Marshall, 4-3, after splitting six singles matches and losing the doubles point. Minnesota recovered the following day with a 5-2 win against Kentucky.
Alessandra Ferrazzi and newcomer Yuliana Umanets won both of their singles matches on the weekend and Umanets paired up with 51st-ranked Natallia Pintusava to win two doubles contests. Pintusava also notched a straight-set singles victory against No. 27 Michaela Kissell of Marshall and was named Big Ten Player of the Week.
Northwestern began its season with losses against 26th-ranked Vanderbilt and No. 16 Georgia Tech, but defeated Harvard and Nebraska the next weekend to improve to 2-2. Marquette is 1-2 after beating University of Illinois at Chicago and losing to Big Ten opponents Purdue and Indiana. Both of Minnesota's opponents this weekend are undefeated at home.
The Gophers play at the Baseline Tennis Center for this first time this spring and begin a seven-match home stand next weekend against No. 39 Oklahoma and Oregon.