Aug. 29, 2012
First year head coach Chuck Merzbacher has announced the 2012-13 schedule for Minnesota’s women’s tennis program. The slate is highlighted by six fall tournaments and 10 home duels throughout the year. Overall, the Golden Gophers will face 13 teams that ended the 2011-12 season ranked among the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Team Rankings, with six of those teams finishing ahead of Minnesota at the No. 39 spot.
The fall season begins at home with the program’s annual Gopher Invitational. Minnesota will welcome seven teams to the Baseline Tennis Center on Sept. 14-16, including Iowa, Air Force, Eastern Michigan, and in-state rivals Gustavus and St. Catherine’s. Twelve days later the Gophers head to the west coast. Select Gophers will participate in the Cal-Berkeley Invitational over the weekend of Sept. 28 through 30. Other members will be in pacific Palisades, Calif., at the All-American Championships which will run from Sept. 29 through Oct. 7.
Two more tournaments will close out the month of October. Minnesota is scheduled to travel to Evanston, Ill. to take part in the Wildcat Invitational at Northwestern (Oct. 12-14). Without much pause for break, the Gophers move to compete at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championship in Tulsa, Okla. on Oct. 18-22. On Nov. 9-11, Minnesota will once again end its fall season at the Kitty Harrison Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C. Provided the team qualifies, the Gophers will concurrently take part in the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoors in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. (Nov. 8-11).
The Gophers begin the spring season when they host back-to-back matches against Marquette and Montana on Jan. 19. ITA Kick-Off Weekend follows as the team travels to College Station, Texas on Jan. 26 for a battle against Arizona, before trying their hand against either North Texas or host Texas A&M the next day. Next is a trip to Virginia Tech where the Maroon and Gold are scheduled to play Louisville on Feb. 2 and Virginia Tech on the third. The ITA National Team Indoor competition continues in Charlottesville, Va., spanning the weekend of Feb. 8-11.
The squad stays on the road for one more week, making stops at Oklahoma State (Feb. 9) and Oklahoma (Feb. 10) before circling back home to host four in a row. Carleton gets things started on Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. The Bulldogs of Mississippi State will challenge the Gophers on Feb. 22 before Big Ten play starts will Wisconsin on Feb. 24. The conference slate contains the biggest and best challenges the Gophers will face in 2013. Nine of the 12 conference members, including Minnesota, had women’s tennis programs rank among the Top 75 nationally at the close of last season. Four finished in the Top 25. South Florida gives Minnesota the final non-conference match-up of the season on March 19 before Big Ten takes center stage.
Michigan State and 2012 Co-Big Ten Champion Michigan (No. 14 in the 2012 final poll) visit the Twin cities on March 22 and 24, respectively. The next seven straight matches are against formerly-ranked foes. Minnesota has one week to recover and switch focus to the other Big Ten Champion and No. 12 postseason pick, Northwestern (March 30). The next day, the Gophers face the Illini (No. 21). On April 5 and 7, Minnesota looks to Penn State (No. 51) and Coach Merzbacher’s former homestead Ohio State (No. 59), for formidable matches at home before heading to Indiana and Purdue the following weekend.
Nebraska takes its turn at Baseline on April 19 as the Gophers’ home finale. Last year, the Cornhuskers claimed fourth place in their first season with the Big Ten and earned a No. 16 final ranking from the ITA. Iowa City, Iowa is the last stop of the regular season on April 21.
The 2013 Big Ten Tournament will take place from April 25 through April 28 and will be held in Bloomington, Ind. The NCAA Tournament is scheduled from May 10 to May 27 with the Championships taking place in Champaign, Ill.