Women’s tennis defeats Indiana

BY JON FRANK | APRIL 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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Despite falling to Illinois on April 10, the Iowa women’s tennis team (14-4, 4-3) showed its resolve in a 4-3 win over Indiana (13-6, 3-3) at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex on Sunday.

As they had done several times before, the Hawkeyes were forced to battle into the last match.

The win over Indiana marks the fifth time this spring the Hawkeyes have won a match by a single point. Other such victories came against Princeton on Feb. 27, DePaul on March 7, Tulsa on March 20, and Michigan State on March 28.

The win also helps the Hawkeyes in their quest for an NCAA Tournament berth and keeps them just over .500 in the Big Ten play. Iowa is undefeated when the match is decided by one point.

This time, heroics from junior Jessica Young during her 6-3 third-set victory won the match for the Hawkeyes.

Up 3-2, Iowa needed one more point to secure a victory. However, with senior Merel Beelen down against her opponent, it was evident to Young that her match would likely determine the team’s fate.

“I knew I needed to win,” she said. “I’ve had a tough few weeks, but I worked with [assistant coach] Mira [Radu] after the loss to Illinois, and it helped lots. The win was really important for the team and for me.”

Before her win against Indiana’s Myriam Sopel, Young had lost four of her last five singles matches — the only win coming against Penn State’s Denisa Zobeideh on April 2.

The drama that preceded Young’s match in doubles play awarded Iowa the first point of the match. Juniors Lynne Poggensee-Wei and Alexis Dorr won their doubles set, 8-4.

But after Young and senior Kelcie Klockenga lost their match, 8-3, the doubles point rested in the hands of Beelen and sophomore Sonja Molnar.

The No. 15-ranked duo started off in a hole, down 6-4, but after a series of hard-fought volleys, scored four points in a row to win, 8-6.

Molnar credited the performance to strong motivation.

“Merel and I are ranked No. 15 in the nation, and we wanted to keep it that way,” she said. “Ultimately, it came down to who wanted it more.”

With the win over Indiana duo Leslie Hureau and Katya Zapadalova, Beelen and Molnar are now 10-1 on the season and riding a five-game win streak. The pair’s only loss came on March 27, when the Hawkeyes fell to Michigan at home, 6-1.

Molnar, ranked No. 55 in singles play, rode the momentum from the big doubles win and defeated Indiana’s Hureau (6-1, 6-1). The victory improves Molnar’s overall record to 15-3 in singles play this season.

Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said she was pleased with the determination her team showed over the weekend.

“Illinois and Indiana are both good teams,” she said. “Illinois was better than us. They competed better. I’m very happy with our win over Indiana, though. Jessica Young did a great job staying composed.”

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