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Women’s tennis drops 2

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | APRIL 13, 2009 7:30 AM

With the temperature hovering above 50 degrees and the sun shining, things were looking up as the Iowa women’s tennis team headed to the outdoor courts for the first time this spring.

The Hawkeyes hoped to channel that energy into a win to break their current losing streak, but they were unsuccessful, dropping home dual meets to Wisconsin, 4-3, and No. 1 Northwestern, 7-0.

Iowa’s skid now stands at seven matches after beginning Big Ten play 2-0. Wisconsin (6-13, 1-6) was able to capture its first conference win of the spring by taking down the Hawkeyes, which got off to a slow start after losing the doubles point and was down 3-1 halfway through singles matches.

“We just started out too slow,” Iowa head coach Daryl Greenan said. “The energy level wasn’t there from the beginning. We dug ourselves a hole.”

The first Hawkeye point came from freshman Sonja Molnar after she swiftly beat the Badgers’ No. 1 player (6-0, 6-1), but Iowa needed all three remaining matches in order to win the meet. Sophomore Lynne Poggensee-Wei did her part with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win in the No. 3 match, and sophomore Jessica Young tied the score at three apiece, taking the No. 5 spot (7-5, 2-6, 6-4).

Iowa (7-13, 2-7) was primed to pull off the comeback as junior Kelcie Klockenga battled at No. 4, but she came up just a bit short, (6-1, 3-6, 6-4). Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, junior Jen Barnes’ exhibition win didn’t count. This marked the sixth meet this spring in which Iowa has lost 4-3.

“We did an unbelievable job of fighting back,” Greenan said. “We were a couple points away from celebrating a great comeback.

“It’s another heartbreaker. We need to channel that heartbreak into energy down the stretch here and step up and get a couple wins.”

But things didn’t get much easier for the unranked Hawkeye squad as the top-ranked Wildcats rolled into town, then rolled back out of town with a sweep. However, as if the No. 1 team wasn’t enough, Iowa also had to battle the weather; a stiff wind affected the flight of the ball.

“We were playing in a tornado,” sophomore Alexis Dorr joked, and she felt the cold especially in her hands.

Northwestern (18-1, 7-0) took all three doubles matches and began to nab singles matches one by one, going up 5-0 to effectively win the meet. But two Hawkeyes didn’t fall easily.

Molnar, ranked No. 87 in singles play with a 16-3 record, exchanged blows with No. 20 Georgia Rose in the No. 1 match. However, she had prepared to play No. 2 ranked Maria Mosolova, who sat out with a shoulder injury despite playing in doubles.

After losing the first set 2-6 and facing a 2-5 deficit in the second set, Molnar broke serve. The two players then rallied back and forth at deuce for nearly 10 minutes in a thrilling display of tennis. Molnar used everything in her playbook, but eventually couldn’t hold of Rose and lost the second set, 6-3.

“I don’t like losing,” Molnar said. “I shouldn’t have lost. It wasn’t how she played, it was me. I wasn’t playing smart. She used the wind to her advantage. She’s definitely beatable.”

The senior Rose had good things to say about the freshman and her performance.

“I thought she played really well,” Rose said. “I heard she was having a great year, and I expected a good match. It was probably a closer match than the score showed.”

Poggensee-Wei was locked into a struggle at the No. 3 spot after taking the first set, 6-2. She extended the match as long as she could but dropped sets two and three, both 6-1. Greenan described Poggensee-Wei’s performance “impressive,” but gave the Wildcats credit.

“That’s why they’re No. 1 in the country,” he said. “We wanted to go out and compete and believe in ourselves. But they didn’t give us room to breathe.”

Iowa will wrap up the Big Ten season with a noon dual meet against Purdue on Saturday at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.


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