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Women’s tennis looks for volley after disappointing start to spring

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | JANUARY 21, 2011 7:10 AM

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The Iowa’s women’s tennis team will try to pick up some momentum when it takes on Northern Iowa in the squad’s first dual match of the spring season Saturday in Cedar Falls.

The action is set to begin at noon at the Black Hawk Tennis Club.

Iowa will try to rebound after a slow start in the rain-shortened Florida State Seminole Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla., last weekend.

“We really struggled,” head coach Katie Dougherty said. “We were playing inconsistently and were constantly up and down.”

The Hawkeyes went 0-6 in doubles matches and 5-10 in singles matches against No. 14 Florida State, No. 60 Alabama, and Central Florida.

“We really tried to mix up things. We tried a bunch of new combos in the doubles partners,” Dougherty said.

New combinations of doubles partners seems to be in the mix again this weekend. The second-year head coach likes to change things up and work on particular things when it comes to the season’s early meets. She said the team will focus on the basics and, more specifically, the first three shots.

Though the Panthers do not appear in the rankings so far this season, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be underestimated. Three Northern Iowa doubles teams are ranked in Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top 90.

Iowa dominated in the Northern Iowa Invitational in the fall season, with junior Sonja Molnar and senior Jessica Young each taking home a singles titles. The Hawkeyes claimed 18 singles wins and went 8-3 in doubles.

All eight women on the team will be competing Saturday.

The Hawkeyes appeared in the Tennis Association’s initial rankings at No. 30. Molnar starts at No. 70 in the singles rankings, and along with her partner, senior Lynne Poggensee-Wei, sits at No. 55 in doubles.

Freshman Jessica Cohen went 1-1 last weekend in her first career action as a Hawkeye. While Florida State and Alabama were some of the better teams in the country, Northern Iowa appears to be in the middle of the pack.

Going into this weekend’s match, the expectations are a lot higher.

“We are better on paper,” Cohen said. “We just have to play our game, and we should win.”

She points to preparation and mindset as being key for Iowa Saturday.

“We have to do really everything you can to win — we have to come in with a whole different spirit.”

The final day of the Seminole Invitational — Monday — was rained out, giving the women an extra day of rest. This will be the Panthers’ first competition of the spring season, and along with Iowa’s advantage of having already played this season, the women love to play in the Hawkeye State.

As Dougherty said, “Not playing in Florida, we are back in Iowa, and we are back in our element.”


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