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Nicked-up Hawks drop 2 in tennis

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | MARCH 30, 2009 7:30 AM

Ranked No. 63 in last week’s poll, the Iowa women’s tennis team will shift from that spot when the latest poll comes out this afternoon. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, it won’t be in the direction they had hoped for.

With five dual meets left until the Big Ten championships begin on April 23, time is dwindling for Iowa. The Hawkeyes (7-9, 2-3) want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament after failing to do so the last two season, but they didn’t help their cause by dropping a pair of dual meets at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex against Ohio State and Penn State.

Two-thirds of Iowa’s lineup was playing through minor injuries, and head coach Daryl Greenan addressed the issue in terms of the two losses.

“We were beat up,” he said. “I think that affected us, because we couldn’t prepare like we like to. But it’s no excuse.”

The No. 41 Buckeyes (11-6, 4-0), third place in the Big Ten standings, took out Iowa, 6-1, on March 27. The Hawkeyes were swept in doubles and never recovered any momentum in singles matches. Freshman Sonja Molnar, ranked No. 92, was upset (6-3, 7-5) in the No. 1 match. The lone victory for Iowa came when sophomore Lynne Poggensee-Wei snatched a 6-4, 6-3 win at the No. 3 spot.

Iowa tried to refocus against the Nittany Lions (4-12, 1-3) on Sunday, but the Hawkeyes let a win slip away against the Big Ten’s bottom feeder.

The doubles point eluded Iowa once again, putting the Hawkeyes in a hole early. This marked the sixth meet in a row Iowa has failed to capture the doubles point, the last time being Feb. 22 in a win over Kansas.

In singles, Molnar was back to her old self with a speedy 6-0, 6-2 victory, but Alexis Dorr fell (6-1, 6-1) at the 2 spot. Jessica Young tied it for the Hawkeyes with a 6-3, 6-3 win at the No. 5 position, and Kelcie Klockenga put Iowa up 3-2 after winning (5-7, 6-3, 6-0) in the No. 4 match. But Poggensee-Wei lost (6-3, 7-6 [7-1]), and the score was evened again at three.

Both teams lined up to watch court two. Fans on the catwalk at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex migrated above the court that featured Iowa freshman Ally Majercik and Penn State senior Leyla Morzan in the No. 6 singles match.

Majercik, who had been sick all week and was rehabbing a sore knee, took the lead early, winning the first set, 6-3. But Morzan came back to win the second, 6-4. After fierce rallies on every point, Majercik lost the third set, 6-3.

Afterward, she described how tired she was following the nearly three-hour match.

“Physically, I’m tired, emotionally, I’m upset about it,” she said. “I put it all out there, I just came up short.”

Her teammates were proud of the mental and physical toughness she showed despite the loss.

“Ally is a fighter,” Dorr said. “She definitely worked very hard today. I think she represented our team well. It’s just tough that she lost.”

Majercik also earned praise from her coach for her effort.

“Even though she lost her match, I think it was very courageous for her to battle like she did after not practicing last week,” Greenan said.

The Hawkeyes were dejected after the Ohio State thrashing, but it was obvious that the Penn State loss stung a little more.

“That’s a hard loss to take, because I feel like that was a winnable match,” Greenan said. “Our doubles let us down again. A couple spots were a little bit flat. We need everybody playing with energy.

“We’re doing a good job of fighting. The Lions, the credit goes to them for being so scrappy and tenacious.”

The Hawkeyes will hit the road Saturday and April 5 to take on No. 37 Indiana and No. 33 Illinois.

“Those are big opportunities for us,” Greenan said. “Hopefully, we can bounce back and get one or two big wins over there.”


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