Feb. 22, 2012
After beating ranked opponents on back-to-back days in its first road trip of the season, the 71st-ranked Minnesota women’s tennis team will play three matches at the Baseline Tennis Center this weekend. Missouri will come to town for a 6 p.m. match on Friday and the Gophers will finish the weekend by hosting No. 62 Virginia Tech and Carleton on Sunday.
All-time, Minnesota is 10-7 against the Tigers after dropping a 4-3 decision in Columbia, Mo. last season. The Gophers lost their only all-time match against Virginia Tech by a 4-3 score in the 2003 and have won all 11 matches they’ve played against in-state foe Carleton.
Last week, UM lost the doubles point against No. 67 Wake Forest and 49th-ranked North Carolina State, but rallied to win each match 5-2. Alexa Palen, Julia Courter, Doron Murvanik, and Yuliana Umanets each went 2-0 in singles. Umanets and Natallia Pintusava won both of their doubles matches.
Palen is now a perfect 5-0 in dual-match singles, including a 2-0 mark at the No. 1 spot, while freshman Courter is 5-1 overall.
Missouri began its season with losses to top-20 opponents Notre Dame and Georgia, but has won four out of its last five matches to move to 4-3 in the spring. The Tigers are 3-0 at home and 1-3 on the road.
Senior Nina Pantic has played all seven matches at the No. 1 singles position for Missouri, going 4-3. No. 77-ranked sophomore Rachel Stuhlmann is 6-1, having played at No. 2-4 for the Tigers.
Virginia Tech will be Minnesota’s fifth ranked opponent. The Gophers are 3-1 against ranked teams this season with wins over No. 59 William & Mary, No. 67 Wake Forest, and 49th-ranked North Carolina State. The Gophers’ lone loss came to No. 29 Washington.
The Hokies, off to a 7-2 start, are led by seniors Martha Blakely and Shannon Betts. Blakely has gone 7-1 in singles, playing all of her matches at the top position, while Betts is 6-1 at the third spot.
Minnesota will follow its match 11 a.m. match against Virginia Tech by playing Division III Carleton at 4:30 p.m. to complete the weekend. The Knights, ranked 21st nationally in the Division III preseason poll, are off to a 5-0 start to the season.
The Gophers will hit the road for their next five matches after this week. After Sunday, Minnesota next plays at Border Battle rival Wisconsin on March 4 for its first Big Ten match of the year.