Minnesota got off to a strong start at the Big Ten women’s tennis tournament by dispatching Penn State 4-0 in an opening round match on Thursday in Madison, Wis.
The eighth-seeded Gophers improved to 12-11 for the season and set up a quarterfinal match with top-seeded and 10-time defending champion Northwestern on Friday at 10 a.m. It marks the second straight year Minnesota and Northwestern have met in the quarterfinals. Penn State ended its year with a 5-18 record.
The Gophers’ No. 2 doubles tandem of Tijana Koprivica and Jackie Sperling set the tone for the match by cruising to an 8-0 victory. Minnesota also got a win at No. 3 doubles as Alex Seaton and Magdalena Wiecha won the last seven games to take an 8-3 triumph. Alessandra Ferrazzi and Karina Chiarelli led their No. 1 doubles match 6-3 when it was suspended with the Gophers clinching the doubles point. It marked the eighth time in 11 matches against Big Ten opponents that Minnesota has won the doubles point.
“We got off to a good start with doubles,” Minnesota coach Tyler Thomson said. “T (Koprivica) and Jackie really played well and kept our focus through the entire match.”
Wiecha carried her momentum into singles, rolling to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Maria Prishlyak at No. 5 and Koprivica also maintained her strong play with a dominating 6-1, 6-1 win over Denisa Zobeideh at No. 2.
Minnesota won the first set in all six singles matches and got tiebreaker wins from Niltooli Wilkins at No. 4 and Alex Seaton at No. 6. Wilkins fought off two set points to claim her tiebreaker 7-4 and Seaton faced a set point before breaking serve to force the tiebreaker. Seaton responded with a convincing second set to win 7-6, 6-2 and clinch the team victory.
“It was nice to see one of our seniors, Alex, clinch the match in singles after saving a set point,” Thomson said. “Both (Seaton and Wilkins) fended off set points and had the match gone to completion, those could have been crucial.”
The other three singles matches were all suspended, but Penn State came back to force third sets in two of the matches. Chiarelli won her opening set 6-2 and lost 3-6 to Lauren McCarthy in the second set at No. 1, while Ferrazzi took the first set 6-4 before Dorothy Dohanics came back with a 6-3 win in the second frame at No. 3.
Minnesota next faces Northwestern, which is the nation’s No. 1 team with a 21-1 record and handed the Gophers a 7-0 setback two weeks ago.
“We’d be doing a disservice to ourselves if we didn’t go into the match with the full intention of winning,” Thomson said. “Despite the fact Northwestern has won 70-some Big Ten matches in a row it’s got to end sometime and we’ve got to go into the match believing we’re going to be the team to end that streak.”
#72 Minnesota 4, Penn State 0
1. Alessandra Ferrazzi/Karina Chiarelli (MINN) vs. Lauren McCarthy/Sarah Lotto (PSU) 6-3, unfinished
2. Jackie Sperling/Tijana Koprivica (MINN) def. Denisa Zobeideh/Leyla Morzan (PSU) 8-0
3. Alex Seaton/Magdalena Wiecha (MINN) def. Maria Prishlyak/Dorothy Dohanics (PSU) 8-3
1. Karina Chiarelli (MINN) vs. Lauren McCarthy (PSU) 6-2, 3-6, unfinished
2. Tijana Koprivica (MINN) def. Denisa Zobeideh (PSU) 6-1, 6-1
3. Alessandra Ferrazzi (MINN) vs. Dorothy Dohanics (PSU) 6-4, 3-6, unfinished
4. Niltooli Wilkins (MINN) vs. Leyla Morzan (PSU) 7-6 (9-7), unfinished
5. Magdalena Wiecha (MINN) def. Maria Prishlyak (PSU) 6-2, 6-2
6. Alex Seaton (MINN) def. Michaela Stracar (PSU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
Penn State 5-18
Minnesota 12-11; National ranking #72
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (5,2,6)