Molnar makes ascension up poll


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Iowa sophomore Sonja Molnar has officially arrived.

Moving up seven spots to No. 65 in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s poll, she has made quick contributions to the women’s tennis team.

A year ago, the Guelph, Ontario, native went 18-4 for the Hawkeyes during the spring, picking up Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional Women’s Rookie of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

Entering Iowa’s fall season in August 2009, she carried a No. 72 national ranking.

Now blossoming during the beginning of the season, the court star said she is far from satisfied.

“It’s definitely not where I would like to be,” Molnar said. “It shows that I’m capable of some things. But I would like to be ranked higher and show that I could do more.”

First-year Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said Molnar has the ability to rise as high as she pleases.
The college standout has no visible weaknesses, the coach said. She doesn’t make mistakes and instead, forces her opponents to make costly blunders.

“She’s going to rise even more in the rankings,” Dougherty said. “She’s going to have a lot of opportunities to get more ranked wins starting in a couple of weeks. She’s got to take advantage of those opportunities, and she will. She has a great sense of her game, and how to win matches.”

Last weekend at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex, Molnar had a prime opportunity to not only solidify her ranking, but climb even further in the poll when Iowa hosted No. 6 Notre Dame on Jan. 23.

Molnar faced Fighting Irish sophomore Kristy Frilling, ranked No. 30, but she faltered in two sets for a loss (6-0, 6-3) — one that left a tart taste in Molnar’s mouth.

Unsatisfied with her performance, she couldn’t bear to leave her home courts. While the crowd had shuffled out and most of the players had made their way home, Molnar remained, spending most of the next two hours working on her game.

“That’s the mark of a great player,” Dougherty said. “She’s constantly trying to get better and working toward perfection. She will get better. The consistency of her practices has gotten better.

“She’s ready to work and she’s hungry, and that’s half the battle. She just wants to win so bad that she puts herself in a good position.”

Iowa assistant coach Mira Radu said she isn’t surprised by Molnar’s success, and her rise in ranking illustrates an unshakable work ethic.

“She’s definitely is a hard worker,” Radu said. “She likes to win. She gives all her effort out there. That’s what it’s going to take to win. She’ll lay it all out there. That’s a nice feature to have when you’re an athlete.

“She needs to keep working at it, but she has what it takes. The past champions are not only talented players but they have to combine everything and have a strong will. She has all of that, she just needs to keep working on it and the results will come.”

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