March 14, 2012
After a week off from dual-match play, the 34th-ranked Minnesota women’s tennis team will travel south to take on 52nd-ranked Tulane on Thursday and No. 50 Louisiana State on Saturday. This week’s matches will conclude the Gophers 2012 non-conference schedule.
Minnesota enters Thursday’s contest against the Green Wave riding a six-match winning steak and with nine wins in its first ten matches.
Leading the Gophers in singles play is 116th-ranked junior Alexa Palen, who is off to a 9-0 start, including a 3-0 record at the No. 1 position. Sophomore Natallia Pintusava, who is 6-2 in dual-match play, is 4-1 at the top position.
Junior Doron Muravnik and freshman Tereza Brichacova are also playing well in singles with win streaks of six and five, respectively. As a team, Minnesota is a combined 36-4 at the No. 1, 2, 4, and 5 positions (9-1 at each position).
In doubles, Pintusava is 4-1 when paired with fellow sophomore Yuliana Umanets and is 4-0 with senior Magdalena Wiecha, who recently returned from injury. The Gophers have lost the doubles competition four times, but came back to win the match on three of those occasions.
Tulane will enter Thursday’s match with a 12-3 record, which includes a 7-2 ledger in home matches. The Green Wave is 1-2 against ranked opponents, but won its only match against a Big Ten opponent when it beat No. 54 Penn State on Feb. 19.
Senior Mariam Kurdadz has led Tulane in singles play with a 9-5 record at the top position. Junior Emma Levy has a 12-2 record on the spring with a 10-2 mark at No. 2 and fellow third-year player Caroline Magnusson is 13-2, having played primarily at the No. 4 spot.
Magnusson and Caroline Thornton have been the most successful doubles tandem for the Green Wave at 14-1, while duos of Kurdadz and Levy and Lindsay Dvorak and Hila Elste are each 11-3.
Louisiana State, who visited Minnesota in the fall to compete in the Gopher Invitational, is off to a 6-3 start to the spring. All of the Tigers’ losses have come against ranked opponents, as have three of their wins. LSU beat Tulane 6-1 on Feb. 14.
Record-wise, senior Olivia Howlett and sophomore Yvette Vlaar have led the team at 6-2. Whitney Wolf is 3-6, but five of her losses have come at the No. 1 position. Howlett is 2-0 at the top spot with a 4-2 mark at No. 2.
Wolf and Keri Frankenberger have been the best doubles combination for LSU, having gone 6-3 at No. 1.
The Gophers will play one more weekend on the road before returning home to play No. 13 Northwestern on Mar. 30. Minnesota will play Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. next Saturday before traveling to No. 18 Michigan to complete a stretch of five consecutive matches away from home the following day.