Gophers Ready For NCAA Tournament

Go Gophers!
Team MVP Alexa Palen and Minnesota will face Arizona in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Go Gophers!
Team MVP Alexa Palen and Minnesota will face Arizona in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Go Gophers!

May 9, 2012

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Date: May 11-12, 2012
Location:
Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Friday, May 11
9 a.m. Minnesota vs. Arizona
12 p.m. Richmond vs. North Carolina
Friday, May 12
2 p.m. Women's Second Round

Season Recap
With a 16-8 record, this spring has marked Minnesota’s highest win total since the team went 18-7 in 2003. That year was the last time the Gophers appeared in the NCAA Tournament, losing 4-3 to Pepperdine on May 9. Minnesota, which is currently ranked No. 35, also got off to a program-best 12-1 start to the season this year.

Last Time Out
In the team’s last match, Minnesota dropped a 4-0 decision to 20th-ranked Illinois at the Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio. The loss came a day after the Gophers advanced to the second round of the conference tournament for the third time in four years with a 4-2 come-from-behind win over southern border rival Iowa.

About the Field
No. 28 Arizona is 15-8 on the year. The Wildcats were 13-0 at home this year, but were 0-7 on the road. The team is 2-1 in neutral site matches. Arizona is led in singles by 47th-ranked Lacey Smyth and 79th-ranked Natasha Marks. Smyth and Marks combine to form the nation’s 34th-ranked doubles tandem. The region’s other matchup features Atlantic Coast Conference and No. 7-ranked North Carolina and Atlantic 10 conference champion Richmond. The Tar Heels are 22-6 while the Spiders are 14-4.

Minnesota vs. Arizona
Arizona has defeated the Gophers in both of the teams’ all-time matches. The Wildcats earned a 7-0 sweep on Mar. 13, 2005 and a 7-2 win on Mar. 23 1989. Both matches of the previous meetings between the two schools were were played at Arizona.

Singles Strength
Six members of the Gopher women’s tennis team have reached double digits in singles wins this spring. Doron Muravnik leads the way with a 15-7 record and she is followed by Alexa Palen (14-6) and Natallia Pintusava (14-8). Freshmen Tereza Brichacova (12-7), Julia Courter (11-9), and Aria Lambert (10-6) have also reached the 10-win plateau. Last season, only Muravnik and Magdalena Wiecha got to 10 wins.

Doubles News
After returning from injury in late February, Magdalena Wiecha, the team’s lone senior, joined forces with All-Big Ten First Team selection Natallia Pintusava in doubles play. Together, the duo has gone 12-5 and is ranked 52nd in the nation. Nine of their 12 wins have come at the top position.

Angainst Ranked Foes
Entering the NCAA Tournament, Minnesota has a 9-7 mark against ranked opponents this spring. The Gophers will play their 17th match against a ranked foe when they face No. 27 Arizona in the first round. The team finished with an 8-4 home record and a 7-3 road record and will look to improve upon a 1-1 ledger at neutral sites in the tournament.

Strong Conference
Minnesota will be joined by Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and conference postseason champion Purdue in representing the Big Ten at the NCAA Tournament.