March 21, 2012
Following the conclusion of non-conference play last weekend, the No. 26 Minnesota women’s tennis team will jump back into Big Ten action this weekend. The Gophers, winners of eight straight matches, will finish a month-long stretch of road matches this week when they travel to Michigan State on Saturday and No. 20 Michigan on Sunday.
Last week, Minnesota went to Louisiana to complete its non-conference schedule with road matches against ranked opponents Tulane and LSU. The Gopher finished 10-1 against non-Big Ten opponents and are now 11-1 overall after picking up 4-3 wins in both matches.
Juniors Alexa Palen and Doron Muravnik and sophomore Natallia Pintusava each won both of their singles matches and helped lead the team win for the fourth time this spring after dropping the doubles point on Saturday against LSU.
Palen, ranked 116th in the nation, is now 11-0 on the season. Muravnik is 10-1 and has won eight consecutive matches, while Pintusava is 8-2. Pintusava is also a part of the team’s top two doubles tandems. She is 5-1 with senior Magdalena Wiecha, who began her season late due to injury, and is 4-1 with fellow sophomore Yuliana Umanets.
Michigan State is off to an 8-4 start on the season and is 8-2 at home. In singles, the Spartans are led by sophomores Katarina Lingl and Marina Bohrer. Lingl is 9-3 and Bohrer is 7-2. Junior Nicole Herzog has played a majority of the team’s matches at No. 1. At 5-2, junior Dana Guentert and freshman Hilary Hager have MSU’s best doubles record.
Minnesota won for the third consecutive time against the Spartans last year with a 4-3 victory in Minneapolis
Michigan enters the weekend with a 7-5 record, having after having wrapped up a challenging non-conference schedule. All five of the Wolverines’ losses have come to opponents ranked 17th or higher and two of their wins have come against foes ranked in the top 20. Michigan beat MSU 7-0 in its only Big Ten match.
The Wolverines boast four ranked singles players and one highly-ranked doubles tandem.
Tenth-ranked freshman Emina Bektas is 9-1 and has played all of her matches at the top position. Following Bektas in the rankings are 64th-ranked sophomore Brooke Bolender,
106th-ranked sophomore Sam Critser, and No. 124 Mimi Nguyen, a junior. Bolender and Bektas are the nation’s seventh-ranked doubles combination.
Sunday’s match will also see volunteer assistant coach Whitney Taney return to her alma mater. Taney was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan and holds Michigan's record for most career doubles victories with 114. She won twice in singles and in doubles last year in helping the Wolverines claim their eighth and ninth straight wins over Minnesota.
After wrapping up play this weekend, the Gophers will play at home for the first time in 33 days as they host 14th-ranked Northwestern and No. 50 Illinois.