April 5, 2012
After losing in its first two home matches in over a month, the 33rd-ranked Minnesota women’s tennis team will look to get back on track with Big Ten road matches against No. 47 Penn State and Ohio State this weekend. The Gophers will play the Nittany Lions on Friday at 2:30 p.m. and will take on Ohio State on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Last week, the Minnesota had its nine-match winning streak snapped by 14th-ranked Northwestern. The match, which was the Gophers’ first at home in 33 days, got off to a promising start after Minnesota won its first doubles competition against the Wildcats since 2003. The Wildcats then won five of the six singles matches for a comeback win.
On Sunday, the Gophers played outdoors at the Baseline Tennis Center for the first time all season, but dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 19 Illinois. In the loss, Julia Courter won her third consecutive singles match. Minnesota is now 12-4 with a 2-3 conference record.
Entering this weekend, juniors Alexa Palen and Doron Muravnik lead the Gophers in singles wins. Palen has a team-best 12-3 record, including a 4-2 mark at the No. 1 position while Muravnik is 11-4. Sophomore Natallia Pintusava is 6-2 at the top position and is 9-5 overall.
Minnesota is highlighted in doubles by the 39th-ranked combination of Pintusava and senior Magdalena Wiecha. Since joining forces upon Wiecha’s return from injury on Feb. 24, the duo is 8-2.
Like the Gophers, Penn State was very hot entering last week’s action, but lost both of its matches. The Nittany Lions are 10-6 and are 2-3 in the Big Ten. Penn State is also 9-2 at home.
PSU is led by No. 61-ranked junior Petra Januskova in singles. Januskova is 13-3 with all of her matches coming at No. 1 spot. Sophomore Chelsea Utting is 12-4 and is 8-3 at No. 2. Januskova and Utting are also 8-3 in doubles play at No. 1.
Ohio State, who will host Wisconsin on Friday, is 6-12 with a 1-4 Big Ten record. The Buckeyes snapped a seven-match losing streak last weekend with their first conference win over Iowa. Ohio State is 4-4.
The Buckeyes are led in wins by 12-5 junior Gabby Steele. Junior Fidan Manashirova and freshman Kelsey Dieters are 11-6. Either senior Kelsey Haviland and junior Kara Cecil has played at No. 1 in all of the team’s matches. Steele and Manashirova lead the team with an 11-5 doubles ledger.
The Gophers lost to both Penn State and Ohio State last season. Minnesota is 24-16 against the Buckeyes all-time and is 17-6 against the Nittany Lions. The Gophers will return to Columbus, Ohio on April 26 for the Big Ten Tournament, hosted by OSU.
Next weekend, Minnesota will then return home to play 45th-ranked Indiana and No. 33 Purdue. The Gophers will then finish out the regular season with a road match at No. 17 Nebraska and a home match against No. 72 Iowa.