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April 14, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's tennis team (10-13, 0-6) will hit the road for the final time this weekend for a series against No. 24 Minnesota (14-2, 4-1) and No. 63 Wisconsin (9-10, 3-3). The Nittany Lions will challenge the Gophers Friday, April 15 at 4 p.m. and will then travel to Wisconsin Sunday, April 17 at 11 a.m.
Last Sunday, the Nittany Lions dropped another close match to No. 53 Michigan State, 4-3. Penn State took the doubles point behind strong play from senior Eddie Bourchier (Hobart, Australia) and freshman Russell Bader (Austin, Texas) in the first doubles position. Michigan State took three of the next four singles points before Bader defeated Ronnie Hulewicz in third singles to tie the match at three. Freshman Chris Young (Melbourne, Australia) could not break a 5-5 tie in the third set, eventually falling 7-5. The point clinched the match for the Spartans.
Following their impressive doubles victory Sunday afternoon, Bourchier and Bader moved to the No. 67 position in the latest the ITA top 125 doubles rankings. The impressive pairing has combined for 11 victories since pairing together in February. The 11 victories combined with the four triumphs Bourchier earned with early season partner, junior Jason Lee (Sydney, Australia), gives Penn State 15 victories in the first doubles position, good for a .652 winning percentage this spring.
Bader continues to inject a youthful leadership into the Nittany Lions on a weekly basis. The freshman leads the team with a 15-5 singles record this spring. He also brings a 14-9 doubles record to the table.
Led by head coach Geoff Young, the No. 24 Minnesota Golden Gophers enter Friday's match with a nearly unblemished record. The Gophers dropped a close match to No. 27 Indiana, 4-3, last weekend for their first loss of the Big Ten season. Minnesota features an experienced roster with only two freshmen this season. No. 101 ITA singles player, Tobias Wernet, who sports a 13-3 record this spring, leads the team in singles play. The Gophers are also strong in doubles play, with a 10-5 spring record, Sebastian Gallego and Phillip Arndt worked their way to the No. 77 ITA doubles ranking.
Head coach Greg Van Emburgh leads the No. 63 Wisconsin Badgers into Sunday's match. With seven freshmen on the roster, the Badgers enter the weekend with one of the youngest rosters in the Big Ten. Wisconsin has played tough competition this spring but has managed to earn some impressive victories in Big Ten play, including back-to-back 4-3 wins over No. 53 Michigan State and No. 60 Purdue. Senior Marek Michalicka leads the Badgers in singles play, sporting a 14-4 record and the No. 57 ITA singles ranking. Michalicka also teams with Billy Bertha in doubles play. The tandem has earned a 14-3 record in the No. 1 doubles position and the No. 51 ITA doubles ranking.
Penn State will return to Happy Valley for the final home series of the regular season next weekend. The Nittany Lions will face the No. 60 Purdue Boilermakers Friday, April 22 at 3 p.m. Finally, Penn State will wrap up the Big Ten season against the No. 27 Indiana Hoosiers Sunday, April 24 at noon. Both matches will be played at the Sarni Tennis Center weather permitting. Admission is free to both matches.