The Minnesota women’s tennis team will hit the road for the final time in the 2011 dual match season this weekend when it heads to Penn State and Ohio State. UM plays PSU in University Park, Pa. at 5 p.m. on Friday and visits the Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Last week, the Gophers ventured to Indiana to take on No. 66 Purdue and Indiana. Coming off an improbable comeback win over Michigan State the previous weekend, UM dropped both matches. Alexa Palen and Mariana Spilca teamed up to give the Gophers their only doubles win of the weekend against Purdue, while Magdalena Wiecha was the only player to earn a singles win, scoring a straight-set victory at No. 3 against IU. Natallia Pintusava, ranked 74th in singles play, did not compete against the Hoosiers.
Penn State is tied with Minnesota for tenth place in the Big Ten with a 1-6 conference record. Since beginning the season at 3-1, PSU has lost 11 of its last 14 matches and like UM, has only beaten Michigan State in conference play. The Nittany Lions have no ranked singles players, but have the 84th-ranked doubles tandem in Fernanda Perrotta and Petra Januskova. Half of the dual matches they’ve played this year have been 4-3 decisions.
UM improved to 17-5 all-time against the Nittany Lions last year when they swept PSU 7-0 in University Park, Pa. Current Gophers Wiecha, Doron Muravnik, and Alessandra Ferrazzi earned singles wins and Ferrazzi and Palen and Wiecha and Muravnik helped the team earn the doubles point. Minnesota has won five straight matches over Penn State.
OSU, who will host Wisconsin on Friday, sits in a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten with a 4-2 conference record. The Buckeyes’ only two setbacks in league play have come to championship frontrunners Michigan and Northwestern. Ohio State swept the Gophers 7-0 last year in Columbus to gain its seventh straight victory over UM, but the Gophers have a 24-15 edge in the all-time series. Minnesota last beat OSU in 2003.
Gabby Steele and Kelsey Haviland of Ohio State make up the ranked 88th-ranked doubles duo in the nation. Like PSU, the Buckeyes do not have a ranked singles player.
After this weekend, the Gophers will wrap up their regular season schedule against Illinois and Iowa at the Baseline Tennis Center before traveling to Ann Arbor, Mich. to compete in the Big Ten Tournament.