Women’s tennis looks to Big Ten dominance

BY JON FRANK | FEBRUARY 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team (6-1) hopes to open Big Ten play with another victory against Minnesota (6-3) today.

But unlike last season, when the Hawkeyes won, 4-3, in Iowa City, the No. 53 Golden Gophers will enjoy home-court advantage when the two squads meet in the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

Team unity, a goal for the squad all season, may take away a bit of Minnesota’s edge. Against Iowa State on Sunday, “Go Hawks” chants from the players echoed throughout the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

“I think we have the edge over them because we’re all really good friends,” junior Jessica Young said. “We have a good support system, and that really helps.”

Minnesota boasts notable wins over then-ranked No. 28 Kentucky on Jan. 22 and Oregon on Feb. 19. The Gophers most recent loss was a lopsided 6-1 defeat to No. 19 Washington on Sunday.

After a successful weekend of play — a 6-1 win against Marquette and a 7-0 dismantling of Iowa State — the Hawkeyes will try to extend their five-game winning streak.

Even though the Gophers are ranked higher in national polls, the Hawkeyes have defeated Minnesota the past two seasons.

“We’re going to have to play really well to win” Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said. “We know what we need to do. It’s just a matter of execution.”

The meet on Friday also marks Dougherty’s first trip to Minnesota as the Hawkeyes’ head coach.

Last season, Iowa lost to the Gophers in doubles play but went on to take four of the six singles matches, with wins from sophomore Sonja Molnar, junior Lynne Poggensee-Wei, senior Kelcie Klockenga, and Young.

Junior Alexis Dorr, who is undefeated this season, said she is awaiting the challenge awaiting her in Minneapolis. Because she lost her match last season, she hopes to even the score.

“It’s always [good] motivation to go out and beat a team you’ve never won against,” Dorr said.

Although the matchup are not yet known, some Hawkeyes could face a rematch of last season.

Molnar, currently ranked 87th, defeated the Gophers’ No. 1 player, Alessandra Ferrazzi, (6-2, 6-1) last season.

Another possible rematch could pit Klockenga against Minnesota’s Tijana Koprivica. Last season, Klockenga’s 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 victory sparked the come-from-behind win for Iowa.

Dorr said practice and determination will be the keys to a successful meet.

“We need to work hard and play with a lot of energy and confidence,” she said.

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