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Women’s tennis coach means business

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | DECEMBER 09, 2009 7:30 AM

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Recovering from the departure of their former head coach during the early part of the fall season, members of the Iowa women’s tennis team are experiencing a lot of change.

The Hawkeyes are looking to return to a sense of normalcy under Katie Dougherty, who was hired in November to replace Daryl Greenan.

“My practices and the way I’m going to organize this team is going to be highly structured and highly intense,” the new head coach said. “Also throw in a lot of fun, because that’s ultimately what sports are about.”

Practices in the past have remained relatively light, unlike what is about to take place. Dougherty said she expects her players to practice and compete every day as though they were in a real match.

“When things get sloppy, we’re just going to stop, clean it up, and move forward,” she said. “They’re going to be held to very high standards, and it’s not going to waver. They’re going to learn to rise up to that and be able to maintain it.”

Dougherty, a five-year Big Ten veteran, knows the Hawkeyes have had a tumultuous last couple of months, but they are not going to be let off the hook.

After losing Greenan in late September, the Hawks have been confused, and with that confusion came a lack of focus.

“We need to get this team to a point where all of them to play at a high level,” Dougherty said. “All eight have the opportunity, they all have played at a high level. It’s getting them to do that on the same day and match after match. If we can do that, we can put together some good wins.”

Assistant women’s tennis coach Mira Radu, who served as an interim head coach during the search for a replacement, noticed a distinct difference in tune. Radu said practices have become more focused under Dougherty.

“She very energetic on the court,” said the second-year assistant coach. “She is resourceful with practice drills, and she has a good communication with the girls, which is important.”

Junior Alexis Dorr said practices have changed. While the team has not been drilling together in the off-season, the women have practiced individually with their new coach.

Dorr, who said she loves the new coaching style, said is looking forward to the spring season. She described the new coach as “subtle but effective.”

“The drills are very intense,” the academic All-Big Ten honoree said. “We’re moving throughout the entire time were on the court, and it’s really good.”

Dorr knows firsthand that being introduced to something new can be a difficult task. However, she believes her teammates are using the circumstances to their advantage.

“I think the new coach is really moving us in a great direction,” she said. “She’s really giving the team more of an aggressive feel, lets you play your own type of tennis. She’s just trying to make us all better doing what we do best.”

Dougherty admires her new players. She said it’s been a very tough situation coming to campus in the middle of the season.

She has felt welcomed, though.

“It’s a good group,” she said. “They want to be pushed, and they want to be motivated. I think they’re looking for leadership and someone who’s going to take them to the next level.”


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