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Seniors bid Farewell in victory over Purdue

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

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Senior Kelcie Klockenga reflected on her career with the Iowa women’s tennis team — the friendships made off the court, and all the victories and defeats in her 68-58 singles career.

Klockenga cites her senior season as the best memory.

“I’d definitely say this year has been the biggest highlight,” she said. “I’ve had the most winning season … individually and as a team. So far I’m 14-7 and our team is 15-5, and [Jessica Young] and I have been doing really well in doubles.”

Klockenga defeated Purdue’s Imogen Golder on April 23’s Senior Night, helping her team to a 6-1 victory. The win over the Boilermakers secured the No. 4 seed for Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament and marks its best season since 2006, when the Hawks went 17-4.

Last season, Klockenga and the team as a whole struggled. She had an overall singles record of 15-17, 7-10 in doubles. The Hawkeyes didn’t fare well, either, finishing 7-14 with only two of their victories coming in conference play.

Now with 16 wins under their hat — six against Big Ten competition — Iowa has the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.

Much of the success is due to consistent doubles play — Iowa is undefeated when it wins the doubles point.

Senior Merel Beelen competes in the No. 1 position alongside sophomore Sonja Molnar. With a 13-1 record this season and a No. 13 ranking from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, Beelen said her and Molnar’s success has been the most memorable aspect of her career.

Beelen and Molnar won in a tiebreaker against Purdue’s Michelle Sammons and Jennifer Rabot, 9-8 (9-7). The victory improved Beelen and Molnar’s winning streak to eight.

Aside from the drastic improvement in the team’s record, Beelen said she’s noticed a stark difference in the team’s thinking this year as opposed to last season.

“I think it comes along with winning,” she said. “We’ve been together since last year, and it’s basically the same team as last year, except for [Zuzana Chmelarova] coming in, and we know each other very well, and I think it shows when we hang out. We joke around, and we’ve become a better team.”

Beelen said she’s looking forward to playing in the Big Ten Tournament and competing for a chance to make a bid for the NCAA Tournament.

Head coach Katie Dougherty credited her players for their hard work this season.

“When I took this job I knew I had good players,” she said. “We’ve done a great job of competing better. We’re more fit. We’re practicing more consistently and better, and the team’s really come together. It’s exciting, we’ve got a couple wins under our belt and some really good things have happened.”

Dougherty was pleased with her team’s performance in the last match of the season and said securing the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament will help the Hawkeyes’ confidence and keep them fresh because they don’t have to play in the first round.

“Overall, this was one of the better matches we’ve played all spring,” she said. “We’ve been talking about getting better every single week, and we’ve been able to do that, and this was a great example of that.”

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