Molnar shatters frosh myths


For a woman whose favorite foods are steak and chicken wings, deviating from the norm is nothing new for Iowa women’s tennis player Sonja Molnar. In fact, she openly announces her uniqueness.

“I’m not a typical girly girl,” she said.

The way her career has gone so far, she’s also not a typical freshman. Once enrolled at Iowa in January after complications at the NCAA clearinghouse forced her to stay home in Guelph, Ontario, during the first semester, she wasted no time racking up wins in Iowa City. She has set the tone at the No. 1 spot in the lineup from day one for the Hawkeyes (7-7, 2-1) and handled the pressure with the confidence of a senior.

“When I go into a match, I don’t get nervous before,” Molnar said. “So that’s something I don’t have to deal with. It’s exciting, but I do it all the time, so it’s not that big of a deal for me. But it’s still fun to go out there, and compete, and obviously try to win.”

With a singles record of 12-2 that includes an eight-match winning streak, she has taken down three players ranked in the top 125. Her two losses were to ranked seniors, including a near win against No. 31 Kelcy Tefft of Notre Dame. Currently ranked at No. 92, the key to her success has been consistency.

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“So far, I’ve been able to beat a lot of girls by basically cutting down on my unforced errors,” she said. “So I’m not necessarily having to hit a lot of winners, because they are going to make a mistake before I am. So it’s pretty easy tennis.”

She basically threw expectations out the window during her flight to Iowa a few months ago, so her current record doesn’t dazzle her. But her teammates say she has exceeded their expectations.

“I’m impressed about the record,” said Alexis Dorr, who is Molnar’s roommate. “She really catapults the team. She is a hard worker, fun to be on the court with, and very competitive. She makes everybody better because we try to beat her.”

Don’t be fooled by Molnar’s competitive personality on the court, where she grunts after every swing. While she can be a killer during a match, she isn’t the type to show arrogance afterwards. This is where she reverts to being the freshman she is, giggling with her teammates. She rarely shows this side during a match, except for the time she smiled and waved to head coach Daryl Greenan’s 3-year-old daughter Willa after a point.

Playing at the No. 1 spot has made her grow up quickly. She is comfortable with her role on the team.

“I’m somewhat of a leader, but I’m still perceived as young by the other girls,” Molnar said. “I think they do respect me because I’m playing No. 1, but we all treat each other equally regardless of where we play.”

The start of her college career was atypical, to say the least. However, not being able to work out with the team during the first semester hasn’t slowed her development on the court, but she is still adjusting to the college lifestyle.

“It’s still somewhat overwhelming because I wasn’t going to school for basically half a year before I came here,” she said. “So I’m still getting used to the studying, which is a lot of work, and putting the tennis on top of that.”

She set a goal to get into the top 25 by the end of her freshman season. She has a chance to get close with seven Big Ten meets left, including a match with No. 2 ranked Maria Mosolova of Northwestern, and then the Big Ten championships in April. Her plan to reach her goal is simple.

“My goal is to keep winning,” she said.

With her dual personality, polished game, and lofty goals for a freshman, Molnar is anything but typical.

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