Follow the Gopher women's tennis team all season through the team's blog. Every Monday, a different member of the team will recap the past week's activities.
May 3 - Mariana Spilca
With loss comes experience. Learning how to understand why events in life transpire in the way that they do comes with losing. Whether it happens to be that losing happens to you on the tennis court, in your love life or in a game of Jenga; we become aware of how badly this phenomenon truly stings.
There have been three or four moments this season that have contributed to our hearts splitting one too many times, but losing in the first round in the Big Ten Championships-is more like experiencing emotional dystrophy. When an entire school season filled with a relentless pursuit to become the best comes to a halt; it sort of feels as though you've entered this land of tangled webs of confusion. Where did the entire season go, and why have we wandered our way towards this stop in our season? Although we may feel lost in figuring how to deal with this experience, how we find our way back to the starting line: "Fall 2010" is what defines our character.
Athletes never seem to be satisfied with the outcome of performing events, but searching for the answer to how we can become more satisfied is what pushes us through this terrible feeling. This is where ambition, determination, fight, positivity, and endurance all take hold of the wheel and drive us toward a better place-with better feelings. Once, you've accepted the harsh reality that one can never reverse the order of the past-tripping over negativity becomes so irrelevant.
All we can really do now is pursue a future picture that is framed by better events. With mind over matter-it is up to us to start our next season in a differing manner, with more experience, more drive, more knowledge, and more understanding.
April 19 - Jackie Sperling
Part of the reason I love college tennis is because of the opportunity to travel all around the country and perform for family and friends. This past weekend was a special weekend for me because due to the proximity of the matches to my house, just outside of Milwaukee, I was going to have a fair amount of fans present. On Friday, just as the match was about to start, I saw my parents, sisters, and grandparents arrive at the Nielsen Tennis Center in Madison. I am seldom nervous about matches, but on Friday I had an anxiety that I usually don't have. I can safely assume that it was because of my excitement of playing in front of my family. Thankfully, we were able to entertain them. At three doubles, playing together for the first time this season, Magda and Mariana played each point like they were in the finals of the US Open. Even better is that they celebrated each point they won like they DID win the finals of the US Open. This kind of intensity energized everyone else on the court. The Gophers got a quick start to the team match with a 1-0 lead after T and I won at number 2 and Ale and Lex finished off their girls at number 1.
This weekend was different from most other weekends because the coaches decided they were going to put it on us to motivate ourselves. This meant that they weren't going to come out on the courts unless we requested it and they were only going to offer us tactical advice. This required that we worked together as a team, and looked inside ourselves to motivate ourselves to do what was needed to be successful. Despite a heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin, we concluded that everyone had really great energy and had a "never say die" attitude. We were all especially proud of Magda who played a hard fought 3 hour and 15 minute match which ended in a tiebreaker for the third set which Wisconsin had to fight for. Although disappointed that we lost, the team went back to the hotel and rested, while I made the trip back to Mequon (my hometown), to prepare for our special day on Saturday.
Saturday morning my grandma, mom, and dad and I all got up early to start cooking for a brunch for the team. I was so excited to have the team over to my house and I had been looking forward to it since it was on my calendar. It proved to be a really great time for everyone. My mom made a lot of really good food like a carrot cake for dessert which was specially made for Peta and a breakfast pizza which was specially made for Mariana. Ty also loved the breakfast pizza and didn't even realize that the sausage in it was made of soy until I told him after! After the team ate, we had a ping pong tournament. Fourteen people played, including my parents, siblings and even my grandpa, and T left as the champion (way to go T!). While the ping pong tournament was going on, Ty passed the time by taking people on in air hockey. I'm pretty sure everyone had a good time. I'm so glad that I got to have my team at the house at the end of my senior season! It was a lot of fun for my family and me to have everyone over.
On Sunday we took on the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern played some tough doubles, but apparently Ale and Lex were too tough for them because they took the Wildcats down in a tiebreaker at 1 doubles. In singles we came out with a sense of belief and no matter what the score was, each player audibly celebrated when we won a point. D and I both had very competitive first sets, only to lose the second sets by rougher scores. On the other hand, Magda chose to do the opposite. She had a rough first set but battled back for the lone gophers singles victory. Mag has really been playing great! After the match we were able to leave with a satisfying feeling because of our great energy and belief on the court.
As I write this we are on our way back to Minneapolis for a full week of practice before we take on the Boilermakers next Sunday for T's
and my senior day! Come out for our last home match of the season!
April 12 - Alexa Palen
Today we, the Golden Gophers won our 20th consecutive match this Sunday 7-0. We have yet to lose a match this season. Every single one of us is 100% healthy and is consistently playing every match like pros. Actually, many of us are going to turn pro right after college and make millions!
Now, most of you already know that the previous statement is not true. However, wouldn't that be the perfect world: if us Gophers won every match 7-0 and consistently beat on our opponents with no struggle? I'm sure many people would agree with that, however if you were to ask each player on our team, I am willing to bet many would say that that would not be the perfect world. What would you learn from no mistakes? Where does persevering through the hard times and struggle come in? Where does the feeling of triumph overcome failure if you never struggle? If winning and perfection is all you know, what do you really learn? Personally, I would rather fail 10 times and succeed once if it meant that I got to experience growth and the feeling of hard work finally paying off, rather than winning ten times and losing once, but never truly learning a thing.
This past weekend things didn't go our way. We didn't pull out a team victory against Illinois nor Indiana. We lost 3-4 and 1-6. I guess you could say we won in some ways. A few people on the team won their matches Friday/Sunday. Congratulations to these people! You guys deserve credit for succeeding in your matches and doing awesome. However, with all due respect, when it comes down to it, whether one person wins or two people win individually, it isn't as important as our team results. We are the University of Minnesota Women's Tennis team. We play for the University, and we play for this team. Our success individually isn't what truly matters. Our success as a team is what does. However, who defines success just through winning and losing?
As a team, we have our values that we work toward every single day. As a team, we have experienced amazing results of success not only through winning, but also through playing through and achieving our values. This weekend, we had a lapse, as does every team. Sure we worked hard, that's a given. However, our team failed to incorporate all of our values this weekend. It was a tough weekend and no one likes going through the experience of struggling and not being our best; but in order to learn and fully succeed it has to happen. We are not only hopeful, but we are positive that this will be the last big "lapse" our team has for the remainder of our season. We have learned a great deal from this weekend. We have taken this tumble to heart and we never want to experience this feeling for quite some time.
Even though this weekend didn't go our way, we have learned a lot about ourselves. Our coach, Ty, made us aware of something that maybe some of us never knew or maybe we just forgot. He told us that the difference between learning in athletics and learning in the classroom is that in athletics you learn about yourself. In the classroom you just learn about facts and material. (I personally prefer athletics). This is what is so great about being an athlete. You have the opportunity to learn about yourself in a way that many can't. We all take away different things from different experiences. However, deep down we are essentially one. The rush that comes from knowing we have worked harder than anybody else through our workouts and our tennis is a mutual feeling between all of us. The feeling of finally getting 10 on the discipline drill or the feeling of playing on our home courts with our team side by side supporting one another is a feeling that is irreplaceable.
The feeling of overcoming doubt, the feeling of winning that Big 10 match, the feeling of greatness, the feeling of success, and the feeling of being a part of the Minnesota Gophers tennis program are remarkable feelings. They are priceless. All these feelings are emotions that you can only undergo by learning, growing, and recognizing defeat, but not accepting it.
I guess what I am trying to say is that for the remainder of the season, we will still be the same team as we always have been, win or lose. However, the difference between then and now is the fact that we have learned a lot this weekend. We have learned about ourselves, about our team, and about the little things we can do better. There is no greater feeling than the one of overcoming our struggles. For the rest of the season we are going to be feeling spectacular. We are going to continue to take pride in ourselves, our work ethic, our values, and everything we have been blessed with. With this pride we will be joyful ass kickers and work our way toward NCAA's. When we overcome this lapse through our determination and effort, I'll let you know again, that this lapse was the last one, but was worth it in order to have learned and experienced something priceless. This is what tennis is all about. So for those of you who are feeling bad or have mixed emotions right now, don't. If I were you I would be jealous.
April 5 - Doron Muravnik
Hi Everyone, as you all know, we are now in the conference part of the season, which means that we are playing against Big 10 teams. Actually, this is the last part of the season, but we are all ready and motivated to beat as many Big 10 teams as we can, and WE CAN!
Our past weekend started on Thursday. After our practice at BTC, we went on our way to the airport to play against Ohio State on Friday and Penn State on Sunday.
We had a short practice on Friday in the morning to get prepared for our match later in the day. During the match, we were so close to winning the doubles point but eventually lost 9-7 in the deciding doubles match. We eventually lost this meeting, but we didn't let it make us upset and disappointed. After our six hours of driving on Saturday to Penn State we had a solid practice to get our energy back and to be well prepared for our match against Penn State the following day. At this practice we added a new motto for our team. This motto is about believing and trust in ourselves and our ability. Of course this motto is consistent with our five values: Positive Energy, Commitment, Health, Confidence and Consistency. Before I move on to talk about our match on Sunday, I would like to mention that Saturday night was an exciting night for Peta and Magda, my teammates. After they spent two hours in church, they finally could eat sweets again. They gave up sweets for Lent and for those of you who don't know them, they love sweets so much. This is especially true for Magda who is crazy about sweets. But they didn't give up (another thing that identifies our team- we never give up). I would like to congratulate you guys, I know it must have been tough!
By the way, Happy Easter everyone!
On Easter morning (Sunday), we left the hotel to play against Penn State. We started our doubles matches and we won the doubles point. Our #1 doubles team, Ferrazzi and Palen, won 8-4 and at #3 doubles Spilca and Muravnik (me) won 8-2. We showed an amazingly solid game, but we weren't satisfied yet and spent the short break before the singles matches on continuing to focus on producing the same energy to complete our mission (to beat Penn state!). Sperling worked a little bit with our nerves when she won 10-8 in a tiebreaker match. Ofcourse, Sperling was the last match and her win gave us a sweet 7-0 victory over Penn State. Good Job guys!!
I think that we played a wonderful solid game and showed great consistency to achieve our goal. From now on, we are sticking to our new motto and values to do everything we CAN to win all our matches this season. This week we will practice to get prepared for the weekend against Indiana and Illinois.
Please come and support us this weekend!
Hope to see you all,
March 29 - Alexa Palen
"Hey ladies! Lets meet at Bierman Place at 9:45 for a quick team meeting:) Go Gophs!" This would be the text message that all of us players received on Thursday from our very own captain TTT, also known as Tijana Koprivica. As told, we all met at Bierman Place for a "quick" meeting that happened to last a little over an hour. Although, with the results our team had the following night vs. Michigan State, I think we would all agree the meeting was well worth it! On Thursday night our team had a chance to gather all our thoughts and opinions about the year and the Big 10 season ahead. We threw out all of our goals and thoughts about the past matches and more importantly the future ones. When we left the meeting that night I think I can speak on behalf of all of the team when I say we were ready to bring our identity out more than ever and "let the candle burn."
As our team's adrenaline started kicking in on Friday you could feel the fire burning within all of us. It was a candle that not one fan, coach, crazy Michigan State player, or questionable grunter could put out. This flame was burning from within. You could see it in all of us and feel it in our presence. We were not motivated by any external factors. We were motivated from our desire, our heart, our eagerness of being the best we can be and making our identity known. Friday night our team embarked on a journey together that will last until the end of NCAA's. We were not individuals that night, nor will we be individuals as the season continues. We are a team. We are one team who is made up of different talents, personalities, strengths, and weakness. Each of us has special abilities that help make up this team. However, we are defined as one, by our common goal of greatness and JACKS. Now this is a special team and a special year.
For those of you who don't know, we ended up smashing the Spartans on Friday night. We were off to a great start. We followed with a solid practice on Saturday and team dinner with our future freshman Ellie Kantar! It was a joy having her around for a while. As we all got our rest, we came back Sunday to take on the number 6 ranked Michigan Wolverines. We were able to play our first match outside since the spring season began. Although this match didn't turn out the way we would like, we all took away a learning experience and saw opportunities for the future!
Overall this past weekend was full of new surprises. No Bruegger's Bagels...No Jimmy John's... No Friday movie... Instead, we incorporated a little Purple Onion where T and D had expired mushrooms in their omelets. They are still with us, so it wasn't anything too worrisome. Along with those new surprises, our dearest captain T became an aunt!! Congratulations T I'm sure you'll be a fantastic auntie...Just make sure in a few years when he is as tall as you, you still show authority!:)
We will be flying to Ohio this weekend and taking on the Buckeyes followed by Penn State. We look forward to continuing a successful season.
March 22 - Magdalena Wiecha
Friday, March 12 - This was the day when the Minnesota Gopher Tennis Team left Minneapolis for Spring Break. I think all of my teammates were excited about this trip, however I don't know if anyone counted down the days since January 13th after we came back after winter break like I did. We left Minneapolis very early in the morning to be in Los Angeles early afternoon. The coaches planned our practice at Loyola Marymount's courts, our opponents for our first match on Sunday. When we came for practice, Peta was extremely excited because her brother Nathan and his friend Brendan came to see us practice. Peta's brother lives in Australia, but went to Canada for a business trip so he decided to meet his little sister in LA. After practice, during which we enjoyed some warm weather and sun, we went for a quick dinner and then drove to San Clemente to the house we were to be staying in. The house was AMAZING (thanks Dasha)! The best place in the house, in my opinion, was our swimming pool. It was really big and had a hot tub made from stones. There was also a slide, a lot of palms and layers around it. What made it even better was that the water was so warm. Next to the swimming area, there was a table with chairs where we could sit and enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean.
Saturday, March 13 - This was a very busy day for us. After breakfast, we left the house to go to watch and be a part of the audience in the TV show: America's Funniest Home Videos. We had tons of fun watching all of the funny videos and seeing how the show is filmed. One of our teammates, Ronni, who arranged this activity for us (thanks Ron) was chosen to be in the game with the host of AFV. Everyone who wants to see what she did and see all our team on TV should watch the AFV on March 28, on the ABC channel. After that, we had practice at the same place as the day before. We then went for another activity which was a comedy show in the Groundlings Theatre. Tyler, our coach, had a friend in this show and he took us with him to watch this show. That was amazing, there were about 15 different short sketches which were extremely funny (thanks Ty).
Sunday, March 14 - We played against Loyola Marymount University. After very good performance in doubles winning all three matches we lost 4 out of 6 singles and lost the match 4-3. We returned to the house where we had dinner prepared for us by Ale and Lexi who served up some delicious Italian food. After dinner we watch an episode of This American Life called "John Smith".
Monday, March 15 - This was our day off. The majority of our day was spent at the beach. Some people played Frisbee, some walked around, and some just spent the time lying on the sand tanning themselves. After that we came back to the house and jumped into the pool where the water was very warm. This time D and Sperlo were cooking for us and they prepared a Jewish meal which was great. After dinner, the team played charades.
Tuesday, March 16 - After breakfast, we drove to Long Beach State to have a tennis practice in some very hot weather. Some people were already sun burnt after laying on the beach too long with not enough amount of sun cream on which made practice even harder, however coach asked us on the very first day in California to not complain about sunburn. Before practice, the team who lost in charades the night before had to complete a consequence. During lunch in the park, the winning team decided to make the losing team go into to a bookstore in a certain order: Spilcs, T, Sperlo, Lexi and lastly me, and act out the exact same scene. We had to answer the phone and saying: "How many times I need to tell you that it is not Jane?!!! I swear if you call me one more time I will call the cops!!! Geez...people these days.." It was pretty funny because the people around us didn't know what was happening and they were talking about how it was strange that people were getting a call from the same person in the same spot. Anyway after our mission was completed, we drove for practice then for dinner which was prepared by Petie, Ron and me. We made a barbeque. Petie made some delicious kebabs and barbeque chicken and Ron did amazing strawberry ice-cream for dessert. I made some garlic bread...it was ok.
Wednesday, March 17 - This was the day for our second match on our trip. We played against Long Beach State and unfortunately lost 4-3. After the winning doubles point, we stepped on the court completely motivated to win the match. However, things didn't go so great for us and we lost 4 of the 6 singles matches. After the match we went for dinner to a local restaurant in San Clemente and played Jenga. The person who lost was supposed to ask 4 times the exact same question about if they can get first class seat for our flight home at the gate lounge in the airport. Imke lost, however she could not do it with us present because she was flying with a different airline.
The next day we got to Minneapolis safely and were ready to enjoy our last weekend off. Next weekend we start another very exciting part of our season - the conference matches. We are 1-0 in Big Ten matches after beating Iowa and we ready to improve our record. Go Gophers!
March 1 - Peta Forsyth
Friday - The much anticipated beginning of the conference matches had finally arrived and we came into Friday night's match with a great deal of excitement. This was our first opportunity to do some serious damage in the Big Ten and what better way to kick it off than with a home match against Iowa, a team that we had not beaten in six years.
We started off with our standard lunch and movie together in the team lounge. Today the movie was Miracle (which I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't seen it!). Although many of us had already seen it, we happily enjoyed watching it again and were able to draw some inspiration from it. Sperling, on the other hand, appeared not quite as enthused and spent most of the movie asleep. Although anyone on our team can confirm that this is somewhat typical behavior from her.
After warming up on court and having a short team meeting, we were ready to go. We had a great start by taking the all-important doubles point with some very classy doubles on display on all three courts. Unfortunately I missed most of the singles action that followed, as I was playing a match out on the back courts. However I have come to realize during these matches I play where I am unable to see the action, I can get a good sense of how we are going based on what I hear. Lots of passionate "come ons" and positivity as well as plenty of loud cheers from the crowd are always good signs. Tonight it was extremely loud and I'm almost sure I heard everyone who was playing at some point. Thanks to all of those who made it to support us too, I heard your cheering as well!
Sure enough, my predictions were confirmed when I was able to sneak out and check the scores on a few occasions. Each time, the Gophers were winning on EVERY court. We ended the night with a very satisfying 6-1 victory. It was an amazing team effort and to see us finally get the win over Iowa was definitely the highlight of my weekend.
Sunday - After such a solid performance on Friday night and a great practice on Saturday, we were ready for another awesome day with our matches against Princeton and Carleton. Unfortunately it was not entirely as successful as we had hoped, however plenty of positives could be taken from the day.
We began play with the match against Princeton. After losing the doubles point followed by 2 singles losses, we were already down 3-0 and Princeton needed just one of their remaining 4 singles matches to win. As I watched the girls fight it out, I completely believed in the possibility of witnessing a huge comeback to win the match. Their incredible fighting attitudes saw them battle their way back to 3-2, before eventually falling 5-2. From my perspective, I thought the girls did a great job of making Princeton earn the win by refusing to give up.
After being a little disappointed that we couldn't come up with a win against Princeton, we moved on and prepared to take on Carleton for the second match of the day. We took a decisive 6-1 win against them to close out our weekend of play. It's nice to say that after this match, every single member of our team was able to have a chance to play a match at some point during the weekend.
Having next week off and the following week being our spring break trip, it will be a while before we are playing at home again. However we hope you can be there to support us on the 26th and 28th of March where we'll be continuing our Big Ten matches against Michigan State and Michigan. In the meantime you can guarantee we will all be counting down the days until our Spring Break trip to California (especially Magda, who has been giving me an ongoing countdown since the day we began practice on the 13th of January). Everyone is looking forward to the warm weather, but I am also very excited about seeing my brother Nathan and his good friend Reg.
Hope to see you all at our next home matches!
February 22 - Alessandra Ferrazzi
A big HELLO to everybody. I hope you have enjoyed reading our blogs so far. If not , well, you'll for sure enjoy this one, I promise!!
The trip started on Thursday afternoon with a flight from Minneapolis to Denver and from Denver to Eugene, Oregon to play the Ducks. We barely made it on the second flight, but the overall trip was fine. Dasha, our assistant coach, is really excited to come back to her college and meet some of her friends. We arrive to the hotel at night, ready to have a good night rest to prepare ourselves for the match of the following day at 2 p.m.
At 10 am we had practiced a bit on the weirdest courts I have ever seen. Guess what color they are: Green and yellow!! It took a little bit of time for each of us to get used to it, but the energy and the atmosphere on the court was just awesome.
Getting to the point, we beat the Ducks!!!! The doubles started, the energy throughout all the matches was just unbelievable. Both the teams, were really loud, focus determined to win their match. Unfortunately, we weren't aggressive enough, not enough compared to our opponents that were able to win the doubles point over doubles #1 and 3.
A 10 min break to have a little talk with the coaches and put ourselves together to win the match. Here we go, we come back more motivated and energetic than before, finishing up two singles matches really fast. Magda at #5 and me at #2. The Ducks came back right away winning over Jackie and Alexa, both tough matches. At this point T and D were still on the court fighting, splitting a set each with their opponent. T was down 3-2, came back winning a long game with many deuces and a slice ace out wide that was negated from the chair umpire who called a foot fault. T had been extremely tough mentally to not let her opponent upset her. T's opponent was one of those players that no matter how she gets the point she cheers herself up with a "come on" or "let's go". The foot fault was one of these cases.
After this episode T leads 5-3 over her opponent and closes the match at 6-4. The members of the team split in two groups to follow those matches, not really aware of what was happening in the other court.
The intensity of this match was just unbelievable, everybody was so much into the game and captured by that atmosphere. Dasha was certainly one of them!!! She couldn't just stand and cheer, she was jumping every time we were winning a point and screaming as much as she could. Spilcs and I were doing the same thing, but there was no chance to do a better job. T gave to the team one more chance and hope to win the match, but on the court D was still playing. All the people are now watching the final match, and the teams are now lined up on the court. I cannot even describe how intense and crazy that place was at that time.
D was down 5-4 in the third set. Everything was depending on her, everything was on her. Not so much pressure, uh? What do you think? Moreover, her opponent was serving. D is down 0-40. The Ducks got louder in the last game as the end of the game and their win was getting closer, closer for them, closer to them. But no, sorry, it didn't happen.
D's opponent felt just a little, very little pressure and she missed three groundstrokes, bringing the situation a little more in balance and less in danger for us. Three match points saved!!!!! I'm not even going to tell you how relaxed D looked on the court and how nervous each of us was. Ty was not even watching the match on the court with us. Dasha was walking up and down behind the line with her hand in the hair and closed eyes. At this point everybody in that building was extremely involved in the match and in a ridiculous state of tension. We are 40 all, D missed a return. Ad in, another match point for the Ducks. Another chance for them to win the match. Another illusion. Another hesitation from D's opponent that gave us some hope to come back. At the end happened that we.....not yet, the match is not over. Five-all, third set. At this point, everybody is so involved that the competition was extended to the public as well. It seemed like whoever was cheering louder was going to win the match. It looked to be in a movie, the kind of movie where two teams fight each other dancing.
It was exactly the same, just with cheering. D played an amazing game that brought her up 6-5. The match is not over yet, especially having her opponent to serve, with a Good Serve with a capital G and S not for nothing. D's sliced returns to put her opponent under pressure and caused many mistakes. Up 40-15, we had a little thrill 40-30 , but at the end D won!!! We won! The whole team was getting crazy!! Each of us was so happy and proud of her. GoooooooooooooooooD Job D!!!! with a capital G, D and J!.
We couldn't even imagine how it was going to look like if we had lost this match instead. Actually we could. Getting into the car with really upset faces and in a complete silence for the whole time until we were in our hotel room. Fortunately, it was not the case.
The next day, we moved to Seattle passing and stopping at Portland for a pizza lunch where we had the chance to meet one of the many and old friends of our coach Ty. We practiced a bit too and at dinner we played Jenga. Ty's favorite game. And from today, Dasha's as well I guess, maybe not. Every time we play at this game we establish a new bad consequence for the loser. This time it was that whoever loses has to get her hair done in whatever crazy/embarassing way by the other gophers to keep for the whole trip back in Minneapolis. What about Ty?? Obviously for him this doesn't work, so he has to wear a hair band in case he loses.
For dinner we went to a cute place downtown in Seattle and the food was just amazing. Thanks Jaqueline, she decided where to go; good pick! Then we came back to hotel, ready for a long study night.
By the way, in case you are wondering about who lost at Jenga, it was...nope I can't tell you otherwise I am sure there would not be good consequences for the team, especially for me that I write this blog. Whatever, I am willing to do an extra workout or running for the Minnesota Tennis Gopher Fan to tell you. It was our beautiful, super nice, funny and polite assistant coach Dasha. She was super upset. A lot, actually, Very Very Very Very Much. There was just a really short laugh right while the tower of brick was falling, nothing more. Because she was extremely and Very Very Very Very mad. Don't tell her please. Then, I think some people realized that the consequence was not going to happen, unless each of us were willing to wear running shoes and with a filled water bottle accept any consequence of her hair style. No idea what is going to happen. I guess we should wait Monday morning when we are leaving, but do not worry, I'll let you know after I have recovered from my extra running.
Now that we are back to the hotel, we have to be serious because a lot of schoolwork is waiting for us, at least for me. (I just can't get why I am always almost the only one studying all the time...no clue) At the end I will leave you for a paragraph or two because my favorite freshman wants to write something to you, she thinks it is something really fun to read about and so she cannot avoid to write it down for you.
Sunday morning, ready to have breakfast and play against Washington. We got to breakfast and Alexa decided that the waiter needed some help with the wireless in his room. That's because he asked for the breakfast ticket and she gave him the instruction for getting internet in a room with such a nonchalance like she was meaning "here it is, read it". She didn't even read it before giving that piece of paper to him. Big laughs when the waiter and I told her that was not useful.
We warmed up a bit and we were "ready" to play. We lost the doubles point, it was close, but definitely didn't play our best tennis. The energy and the morale was down, but we thought we could make it anyway. It did not happened. Besides Alexa who won her singles, all the other matches were played badly and the coaches were of course not happy about it. We are now thinking about this loss as an opportunity to get better. Taking the positive and using the negative as starting basis to build up good improvements.
Nothing we can do about our match right now, we should move on. We stayed in Seattle for the rest of the day and left Monday morning to Minnesota. In the meantime, some of the girls have taken advantage of this free time by walking around the city and having fun. Others had fun by staying at the hotel and studying.
For those of you reading this you already know much about what has been going on this weekend regarding tennis. You may even continue to read a little about me and my breakfast incident. Sure, it was a good laugh for everyone, however, it wasn't something too out of the ordinary for me.
What you all do not know that is even a little out of the ordinary for our team is the new and improved Alessandra Ferrazzi. What you won't read from our wonderful blogger Ale, is that she too can be a little nuts. Ale was to be seen late at night around the hotel room dancing to rock music, Italian music, without music, and music she most beautifully sung aloud.
I'm not sure if her brain was shot from not seeing a textbook within the past hour, but the moves Ale was busting out had all of our jaws dropping. It gave the whole team a laugh and new perspective on Ale. The moral of this story is to let you all know what 23 hours of studying a day does to you. Also, to inform you that Alessandra Ferrazzi is indeed a bit nuts. But a good nuts! A new week is starting. This weekend at home against Iowa and Princeton.
Looking forward to see a lot of view you and promising you fun matches.
February 15 - Mariana Spilca
What this could look like: "This past weekend, the Gopher women's tennis team dominated their opponents at the Baseline Tennis Center and came out with two victories by 10 p.m. on Saturday night. The Gophers beat Missouri 6-1, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee 7-0. Their presence on the court truly embodied what the team values most: confidence, positive-energy, health, consistency, and commitment."
What I want this to look like: "Although the purpose of this blog is traditionally to highlight past weekend events (see above), the blogger would like to share some important news with you:
The following is old news, current news, and future news:
The Gopher athlete's name that we are interviewing today is Mariana, but most call her by her last name (Spilca) or cleverly nicknamed versions of it: Spilc(s) and Spilcey (Spill-key).
Old News: Spilcs did not compete the main seasons of her sophomore, junior, or senior year due to injuries. She is well aware that this is a long dragged out story that has been told and retold many times over, but please bear with her.
Current News: Spilca is found smacking tennis balls on the court wearing maroon and gold all over her clothes. She seems to be in love with the game like never before. How can this be? Where does she find the strength and confidence to continue on as a collegiate athlete? We just had to speak with her in order to answer these questions and this is what she had to say:
'My teammates and coaches are my family. I can truthfully tell you that the reason why the old news mentioned above has now become a past story to tell, is because of this family. When you fall down and scrape your knees, your family picks you up, wipes the dirt off of you and tells you that you are going to be alright. You may cry because it hurts, but no matter what happens, your family will always take care of you by being there for you. They will tell you that no matter how hard you fall that you should always get back up. This is what my family has done for me, and I am telling you that the reason why I am back up is because of them.
I am also telling you that the reason why we have come out on the court this season with an attitude like never before is because I know that no matter what happens, my family will do everything they can to win. I say everything because it's easy to do that when you have already given everything at 6 a.m. in the morning and then again in the afternoon-every single day.
We don't see workouts or practice everyday as a drag-we see it as an opportunity to show each other how hard we can work yet again. When people make comments like they feel bad that we have such a busy schedule filling our days-we look at them with puzzled faces. These people don't understand that we live, breathe, walk, and talk Minnesota Tennis all day because this is who we chose to be as a family.'
Future News: It doesn't matter what situation the Gopher women's tennis team finds themselves in-they ALWAYS give everything they have on that tennis court."
February 1 - Tijana Koprivica
Our weekend started with a seven hour drive to Nebraska on Friday, after which we were all pretty excited to stretch and come out on the courts to practice around 4 p.m. We had to practice for only an hour because Nebraska was about to play against Wichita State at that time. We wanted to stay and watch their match, however, according to NCAA rules we were not allowed to watch their match. I thought that, since we were not allowed to be in the stands and watch, we could have maybe pretended that we were practicing and watched them instead. Ty (our coach) just laughed at my suggestion and of course we did not do it. :)
After most of us had a great night of sleep (because we slept in those huge hotel beds :)) we played against Wichita State on Saturday morning. We started off with great doubles play, which put us in 1-0 lead. We still had six matches to go and our goal was to keep up with the great energy and close out the match, which we did. Once again it was great being on the court with the girls because we were all so pumped up and ready to do whatever it took to win the match. Gophers won 4-3!
On Saturday evening we were excited to go to the theatre, relax and watch a movie. Since we had different preferences we watched different movies. Magda and I were excited to finally see "Blind Side", Sperling, Doron and Peta saw "When in Rome" and Spilca and Alexa saw "Edge of Darkness". Ronni and Ale decided not to go because they had too much homework to do (now that I have to catch up with my homework I wish I had made the same decision :)) Magda and I thought that "Blind Side" was the cutest movie ever. Also since the movie is a true story, we have decided that we wanted to meet Leigh Anne Tuohy (as Sandra Bullock in the movie) because she really inspired us with her kindness and willingness to help other people. After the movies we were all glad to meet a girl who was from Minnesota and who was so excited to have finally met somebody from her hometown, because, as she said, she did not really like it in Nebraska. She wished us good luck on the match against Nebraska that we were about to play the following day.
The match against Nebraska on Sunday reminded me of how great competitors we are and how much we improved in the last couple of months. I was "lucky" to finish my single match first and put Gophers in 2-0 lead (since we won doubles point). At that point all other five matches were still on and at some point all of them went into the third set. The Gophers were just not ready to lose this match/meet and it was a great feeling watching everybody fight with the same passion and desire to win. Even though Splica, Peta, Ronni and I were cheering as loud as we could, we were really nervous and all of us agreed that we would have rather played than watch at that point. I am pretty sure Dasha and Imke would have agreed too :). We battled all the way until the end, however, we ended up losing 4-3.
Even though we did not end up winning both of our matches this past weekend, we came out confident that our best performance is still to come. As a senior and a captain of this amazing team I can only say, again, how proud I am to be part of this team and how lucky I am to be spending so much time with the girls. We do have something that no other team has, which is true teamwork and desire to improve each and every day, which will, I am confident, help us win tight matches like the one in Nebraska in the future.
January 25 - Jackie Sperling
This past weekend served as a great opportunity for our team to show our potential as well as form our identity. On Friday night we faced 28th ranked Kentucky. Before the match, we watched the movie "Invincible" and T played a recording of a pre-game speech that she liked to get us fired up. Additionally, we got a chance to meet some USTA members who proved to be great fans!
When the match started, we came out strong with two decisive 8-3 wins at 2 and 3 doubles (myself and T, and Alexa and Mariana, respectively) to win the doubles point. We played focused and stuck to our game plan and got the job done. After a quick meeting during our 10-minute intermission, we were all pumped up and ready to step onto the court ready to win. Our scoreboards are set up so that the Gophers' score is on top and our opponent's score is on the bottom; we noted (after the match) how cool it was to see the top of the scoreboards all with 1's and the bottom of the scoreboards with 0's.
Right from the get-go, our positive energy and desire to win showed through "come on!"s that were audible throughout the tennis center. We clinched the match with 3 decisive singles wins from T (1 and 0 at #2 singles), Spilca (1 and 3 at #6 singles) and Ale (4 and 1 at #1 singles). Freshmen Doron and Alexa both split sets while I was battling out my second set. When the match is already decided we play a super tiebreaker (a tiebreaker to 10) in lieu of a third set; so Doron and Alexa played super tiebreakers which they both lost, while I battled back to win my second set in a tiebreaker after being down 2-5.
Dasha and Imke (our assistant coaches) often joke with me about how I am often the last one on the court, and that proved true again. I ended up losing my super tiebreaker 7-10. I guess super tiebreakers and the Gophers weren't compatible that night but I'm sure in the future they will be a happy couple :). Overall we were really happy with our performance against Kentucky and had fun eating and drinking milkshakes at Annie's Parlour after.
Sunday we took on 18th-ranked North Carolina, who was too tough of a challenge for us this time. North Carolina demonstrated why each of their doubles tandems are ranked with their high first serve percentages and ability to choose and execute the right shots. Nonetheless, after doubles we re-focused and came out ready to play hard and see how good we can be. Unfortunately, Ale and Alexa could not play singles because of injuries so we had to make do without them on the court. We believed in ourselves but that was not enough to take down the Tar Heels. Despite a competitive and hard fought second set by Magda, the Tar Heels denied us even a set and they won the match 7-0. After the match our coach said, playing talented teams like this one exposes what we need to work on. This week we will have plenty to work on as we prepare for our road trip to Nebraska to take on Wichita State and Nebraska. Go Gophs!
January 18 - Ronni Saxon
The University of Minnesota Women's tennis team kicked off its spring season with a weekend full of friends, family, and fun.
At the Baseline Tennis Center on Saturday our team hosted an alumnae match for the women who were Gophers before us. We spent time socializing and hitting with various women whose graduation years ranged from 1959 to the 2000's. Over the course of a few hours, we played both doubles and singles with the present Gophers competing against those of the past and later mixing the different generations. It was amazing to meet the women who we see every day in the pictures in our locker room and around the tennis center. These are the women who we knew by name and outstanding competitive reputations. These are the women who paved the way for us, allowing our program to grow from the very beginning and supporting our sport for so many years.
It was great to meet so many wonderful women. This gathering made me realize that I am part of a select group of women who have played their hearts out for the maroon and gold presently and in generations before. I felt an incredible connection to these women, like the one I have with my teammates, and I hope that we are able to invite our alumnae back to hit more often.
On Sunday, we had our first spring season match against the Iowa State University Cyclones. Our team and coaching staff piled into a van in the morning and embarked on the trip to Rochester. About an hour and a half later, we arrived at the Rochester Athletic Club (The RAC), where Alexa Palen, one of our two freshmen, grew into the tennis player she is today. The RAC is an amazing facility that is always crowded with friendly members and staff. When we arrived, we were welcomed with smiles all around, and Palen received countless homecoming hellos.
It was so exciting to finally begin our spring season. Nothing compares to the feeling of putting on your match uniform and stepping out on the court. We were ready to compete, and ready to win. The match started off well with a victorious doubles point for the Gophers. Tijana ("T") Koprivica and Jackie Sperling lost at number one doubles 8-6, while Ale Ferrazzi and Magda Wiecha at number two doubles and Palen and Mariana Spilca both won at number three doubles 8-3. Peta Forsyth and Doron ("D") Muravnik also were victorious at number four doubles 8-2.
In singles, Koprovica, Wiecha, and Sperling faced difficult opponents, losing 7-5 6-2, 6-2 6-3, 6-3 6-4. Palen and Ferrazzi prevailed, 6-3 6-4 and 7-6 (7-4) 6-3. Muravnik was the last match on and, unbeknownst to her, was the deciding point for the match.
When all of the other matches had finished, Muravnik, a freshman, was up 2-1 in the third set. As we all watched with our breaths held and fingers crossed, she battled out the rest of the match winning 4-6 7-5 7-5.
The pride and happiness overflowing from the entire team came with us as we spent the evening at the Palen residence. With the Rochester house adorned in Valentine's Day decorations, we had a wonderful homemade dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Palen, Alexa's siblings and their significant others, and the Palen's dog, Princeton.
With a victory under our belts, full stomachs, and the pure enjoyment we have spending time together as a team, the weekend came to an end as we headed back to the Twin Cities.
I cannot wait to see what the rest of the season brings. Between our team values of health, consistency, confidence, commitment, and positive energy, I only see good things in our golden future. Go Gophs!