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Dougherty is a transition expert

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | FEBRUARY 04, 2011 7:10 AM

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Katie Dougherty is somewhat of a mover.

The second year coach switched jobs five times before finally landing a gig as the head coach for women’s tennis at Iowa. Dougherty’s 30th-ranked club will face unbeaten Miami (Ohio) today at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center.

Making transitions has always been a part of the job for Dougherty. The 30 year-old worked as an assistant coach for American University (2003-04) and Penn State (2004-07) before taking the same position with her alma matter, Wisconsin. She was a nationally recognized recruiter for the Badgers, and she reeled in some of the nation’s top recruits.

“I have been in the Big Ten almost my entire playing and coaching career,” she said. “I understand the conference well and the type of athletes who compete in it.”

Transitions are difficult, whether it be moving locations, meeting new people, or taking on new challenges. Dougherty brings her team insight on how to deal with some of the troubles of both being a tennis player and of life in general.

“She understands the transition to the real world,” senior Jessica Young said. “She understands what everyone is going through.”

Setting expectations and laying the ground rules makes it easier for each woman on the team to transition into the college setting. Dougherty preaches time management and believes a balance between school and tennis is important for her and the team in general.

“I can’t coach each of my girls the same way,” she said. “Their personalities, what they need, and what motivates them is always different.”

One way Dougherty eases the transition from high school to college is to make the team members feel as though they are “one.”

“She really brings our team together,” Young said. “[She] makes an effort to help everybody coexist and to be a part of a family.”

Freshman Christina Harazin had been heavily recruited by Dougherty at Wisconsin, but she decided to go to Iowa despite the team’s head coaching vacancy. When she found out Dougherty had taken that spot, Harazin couldn’t have been happier.

“We are a really tightly knit group,” Harazin said. “She works on the mental aspect of tennis, because it is a very mental sport.”

Some coaches may resort to tactics such as yelling; Dougherty, however, takes a different approach.

“She always stays positive and makes you feel really good,” Harazin said. “If you are down, she always picks you up.”

Dougherty believes that building the team’s spirit rather than breaking the members down is the key to learning from mistakes.

The squad hopes to correct mistakes from last weekend, in which it dropped both its Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional matches in Atlanta, losing to No. 13 Georgia Tech and No. 28 Illinois.

“There is always expected to be some bumps,” Young said. “It was unfortunate that it was [the association’s] weekend.”

Today’s opponent — the Redhawks — will provide another challenge.

“They haven’t lost yet, that gives them a lot of confidence,” Young said. “We are the higher-ranked team. They have nothing to lose, and we have everything to lose.”

The team will be trying different things, including different doubles partners to combat any type of a letdown this weekend. Consistency and play during the beginning portion of the point was emphasized in practice.

“You win some, you lose some,” Dougherty said. “We need to come back out and prove that we are a top-20 team.”


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