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Women’s tennis starts tough at Georgia Tech

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | JANUARY 28, 2011 7:10 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team begins what could be a season-defining stretch of nonconference matches starting Saturday at No. 13 Georgia Tech. Competition is scheduled to begin at noon in Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets have two top-70 doubles teams and one singles player in the top 40.

The 30th-ranked Hawkeyes will face five teams in their next nine matches that in the top 35 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings: Georgia Tech, DePaul, Nebraska, and either South Florida or Illinois. Their final ranked test will come against No. 68 LSU March 16.

“We are starting to play some really good tennis; the team is ready,” head coach Katie Dougherty said.

This week, Iowa is coming off a 6-1 victory over Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Dougherty has tried different combinations of women at doubles for the first two matches and in practice to try to discover the right duos.

“Doubles teams usually take one or two switches to get right, but hopefully, we have the perfect combo now,” senior Jessica Young said.

Putting the two best players at the top spot isn’t a tactic Dougherty usually goes for. She likes to spread the talent over each slot to have a better chance to win numerous matches.

“Pairing the freshman with an upperclassman is important in helping the freshman’s transition into dual play,” Young said.

In discussing the transition from facing Northern Iowa to facing the No. 13 team in the country, Young said the team has made an effort to stay focused during practice.

On Jan. 30, the Hawkeyes will remain in Atlanta, taking on either No. 28 South Florida or No. 25 Illinois. The Bulls will face the Fighting Illini on Saturday. The team that wins both its matches will be invited to play in the National Team Indoor Championship Feb. 18-21.

The Hawkeyes don’t get much of a chance to rest before they come home to take on Miami (Ohio) on Feb. 4 and Kansas State on Feb. 6.

Dougherty iterated playing without distractions is crucial to the team’s success. She looks for her squad’s consistency to improve with more frequent competitions against better opponents.

“We’ve seen that level, and we are ready for it,” she said.


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