Women’s tennis hosts Missouri on Saturday

BY JON FRANK | MARCH 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex echoed with the cries of tennis balls hitting tightly-laced rackets.

Back and forth, across the net and over again, members of the Iowa women’s tennis team strafed the courts on Wednesday, expending every ounce of energy on their most intense day of practice — all in preparation for their match against Missouri on Saturday.

Looking to add to their already impressive résumé, the Hawkeyes (6-2) host the Tigers (2-5) at 11 a.m. Missouri is coming off a weekend of back-to-back losses against Louisville, 4-3, and then-No. 21 ranked Southern Methodist University, 4-1.

Meanwhile, Iowa went 1-1 in Minneapolis last weekend, losing their conference opener to the Golden Gophers, 6-1, but ending with a 4-3 upset over the then-No. 44 ranked Princeton.

After having their five-game winning streak end the day before, the win over Princeton helped the Hawkeyes reach a No. 54 ranking — something the squad isn’t satisfied with.

“It’s nice to be back in the rankings, but No. 54 is not where we want to be.” junior Jessica Young said. “Our goal is to reach the top 40 and make the NCAAs.”

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The team hasn’t qualified for the NCAA championships since 2007. But should the Hawkeyes continue to win, they’ll likely receive a bid come May.

Although, receiving recognition from the NCAA has added pressure to the team.

“We are expected to win, and we expect to win,” Young said, “People know we’re good, and they’re gunning for us.”

Considering Missouri’s below .500 record and the Hawkeyes’ recent hot streak, though, Saturday’s match boats some elements of a trap game.

Iowa junior Lynne Poggensee-Wei said her teammates aren’t planning on taking their opponent lightly, however.

“[Our practice routine] hasn’t changed much,” she said. “This is the same as every other match.”

Still, first-year Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty has spurred the Hawkeyes to early-season success, transforming a sub-.500 team last year to a nationally-ranked competitor.

Despite her team’s achievements, however, Dougherty hasn’t eased up in practice or taken the time to bask in the recent wins. Instead, she downplays the significance of it all.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Dougherty said. “But the rankings are a bit off in the NCAA right now. They’ll settle down in a few weeks and at that time we hope to be in the top-40.”

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