Poggensee-Wei leads Iowa to first Big Ten win

BY JON FRANK | MARCH 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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Heavy winds and low temperatures at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex on Sunday set the stage for a difficult match for the Iowa women’s tennis team.

The Hawkeyes (11-3, 1-3) faced off against Michigan State (6-10, 0-2), but managed to overcome the adversity and defeat the Spartans, 4-3.

Iowa began the match on a positive note, sweeping the Spartans in doubles play to earn the first point.

It continued to look good for the Hawkeyes after sophomore Sonja Molnar easily defeated Michigan State’s Michaela Silesova (6-1, 6-0) in the No. 1 spot.

However, the Hawkeyes suffered a turn for the worse when they lost three of the next four singles matches.

The match was ultimately decided in a tiebreaker between junior Lynne Poggensee-Wei and Nicole Herzog. Poggensee-Wei lost the first set, 4-6, but managed to rally and take the second set, 6-2.

She struggled with her mechanics and dropped the first three games of the final set. With unwavering resolve, she managed to recover and stay poised, winning in the tiebreaker, 7-2.

“I knew I needed to win for the team and that was the driving force,” she said. “I was mentally exhausted, and I wasn’t playing my best. The wind made it tough, and it was cold.”

All throughout the match, she remained calm and collected, never showing emotion regardless of technical error or personal brilliance.

Poggensee-Wei and Herzog were the last two players remaining on the court and were the only two players to play a third set. Teammates and fans hung on every volley.

The tremendous amount of support may have been a deciding factor in the match — Hawkeye fans and players encouraged Poggensee-Wei.

“It was unbelievable,” junior Jessica Young said. “I’m so proud of [Lynne]. [The Spartans] had lots of energy, but we made [Herzog] nervous with all of our cheering.”

The victory over the Michigan State gives Iowa its first Big Ten win of the season.

“It was really important,” Young said. “Our goal is to finish in the top four of the Big Ten, so it’s important for our goal. We barely snuck out with a win, and we showed how much we wanted it.”

Although the Spartans are under .500 this season, the Hawkeyes credited Michigan State’s high-energy play. Iowa coach Katie Dougherty said she felt Michigan State was underrated going into the matchup.

The victory over the Spartans gave Iowa a 1-1 record for the weekend. The Hawkeyes fell to No. 8 Michigan, 6-1, on March 27.

“It was important for us to get our first Big Ten win under our belt before we go on the road,” Dougherty said. “Michigan State is an underrated team, and the conditions were nasty. The game against Michigan helped us to prepare for the Michigan State.”

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