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Women’s tennis faces Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | JANUARY 22, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team is set for a busy weekend.

The Hawkeyes will host Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan in back-to-back competitions at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex. Notre Dame, the No. 5 team in the nation according to collegetennisonline.com, will take on Iowa at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and Eastern Michigan will face the Hawks at 10 a.m. Jan. 24.

“Notre Dame is a great team — it was in the semifinals of NCAAs last year. It’s loaded with talent and excellent competitors,” Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said. “Eastern Michigan has a good team this year, and we need to go out and play good tennis.”

Dougherty said she is excited after taking over the Hawkeyes in the fall.

“Our goal is to get better each week and be playing our best tennis come March and April,” she said. “We have a two-week break between this weekend and the Kansas State/Kansas weekend where we can make adjustments.”

Before heading onto the court, the new coach will have had only 12 days with her team. While Dougherty understands she can’t fully implement her system during a short period of time, she believes Iowa is more than ready to compete.

“The bottom line is that you can’t jam a semester’s worth of work into a five-day mini preseason, and that’s not what we were trying to accomplish,” Dougherty said. “I’m still getting to know the team and how everyone ticks, what their practice habits are, and what their thought process is out on the court.”

While the Fighting Irish come in with high praise, such Hawkeyes as junior Jessica Young believe nothing is out of reach.

Young said she and her teammates have worked hard, and she feels positive heading into her first match at home.

“We are going in with great mindset,” she said. “This weekend, our first match is against Notre Dame, and we have nothing lose and everything to gain. We are going to surprise every team we go up against this year with our competitiveness and our high energy.”

“We want every other team to know that we will never give up, and we will do anything we can to win.”

Hosting two teams at home can be difficult, however. One element the Hawkeye have in their favor is the comfort of their own court — from the speed of the courts to the lighting.

Even with the short amount of time Dougherty has with the team, junior Alexis Dorr said, Iowa can compete with anyone.

“There isn’t any real difference between playing a top school and playing a lower-ranked school,” Dorr said. “We’re here to compete, and that’s what we’re going to do each time we go out on the court.”


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