April 25, 2012
Big Ten Tournament Central | Minnesota-Iowa Live Scoring
After finishing the spring regular season with a 15-7 record and a 5-6 ledger in the Big Ten, the No. 34 Minnesota women’s tennis team will head to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Big Ten Tournament. The sixth-seeded Gophers will face 11th-seeded Iowa at Ohio State’s Varsity Tennis Center at 1 p.m. on Thursday in the first round.
The first-round matchup between Minnesota and the Hawkeyes will see the two teams play for the second time in five days. The Gophers dispatched Iowa 6-1 at the Baseline Tennis Center last Sunday on Minnesota’s Senior Day to conclude the regular season.
Last year, the eighth-seeded Gophers defeated Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament before falling to top-seeded Michigan. That match against the Hawkeyes also came less than a week after Minnesota downed its border rival on Senior Day. This Thursday’s winner will meet the third seed, Illinois, in the quarterfinals on Friday.
After a 22-match regular season, the Gophers have been are led in singles by 15-6 junior Doron Muravnik and 14-6 sophomore Natallia Pinusava. Junior Alexa Palen (13-6) and freshmen Tereza Brichacova (11-7) and Julia Courter (10-9) have also reached double digits in singles wins. Pintusava is an impressive 8-2 at the No. 1 position.
In doubles, the 52nd-ranked tandem of Pintusava and senior Magdalena Wiecha has led the way for the Gophers, going 12-4, including a 9-4 mark at No. 1. Juniors Palen and Muravnik have played in the together for the last 10 matches, going 7-3 at No. 2. As a team, the Gophers are 13-9 in doubles competitions after sweeping Iowa last week.
In singles against Iowa last Sunday, Pintusava upset the Hawkeyes’ top player, 69th-ranked Sonja Molnar, and Muravnik, Brichacova, Wiecha, and Aria Lambert also recorded wins to make for a 6-1 final score. Wiecha’s victory came in her third singles match of the season and her career’s final home match.
Iowa completed the season with an 8-15 record, finishing 2-9 in conference action. Minnesota is 34-20 against the Hawkeyes all-time, but is only 3-5 against Iowa in Big Ten Tournament play. The Gophers lost 6-1 to possible second-round foe Illinois earlier this season.
Both of the tournament’s semifinal matches will be played on Saturday and the championship will be played on Sunday. At No. 6, the Gophers earned their highest seed since 2008. Minnesota is still seeking its first Big Ten championship. Top-seeded Northwestern has won 13 consecutive postseason titles.