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Women’s doubles duo has got it going on

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | MARCH 01, 2011 7:20 AM

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Jessica Young and Sonja Molnar know a little something about chemistry.

Young, a senior, and Molnar, a junior, are doubles partners on Iowa’s women’s tennis team and have ascended to a No. 32 national ranking. The duo — which holds a 6-1 season record — has been one of the Hawkeyes’ few bright spots this spring.

To have a successful doubles teams, each player usually has different strengths that create a better whole. Young and Molnar know each other’s strengths, allowing them to thrive.

“Their chemistry is good,” head coach Katie Dougherty said. “They complement each other. Jess is a great ball striker. Sonja is really good at the net and moving. Both of their serves create a lot of opportunities.

“They are on fire; they are rolling.”

While having different strengths is key, maintaining good rapport off the court is equally as important.

“She is one of my best friends on the team. We get along really, really well,” Young said. “We are very alike in personalities. You know if I’m not playing well, she is able to pick me back up, and that works really well.”

During the 2010 spring season, as a sophomore, Molnar and then-senior Merel Beelen made up the 19th-ranked doubles team. When Beelen graduated, Dougherty knew she had one piece of a good doubles team. So she paired Young with Molnar.

It seems Dougherty’s decision was a good one.

The pair has an impressive record thus far this season, beating Illinois’ No. 15 team, Georgia Tech’s 66th-ranked squad, and DePaul’s No. 55 team.

On Feb. 19, the pair dropped its only match of the season when it hit the road against a strong Marquette team. While Young and Molnar forced a close match, Christina Ruiz and Gillian Hush were too much to overcome. The 8-6 final is the only mar in their otherwise untarnished record. The pair overcame the loss the following day by beating DePaul’s doubles team, 8-3.

“It’s a matter of consistency,” Molnar said. “If I do my job, ultimately, I’m helping the team.”

Because the duo is so good together, Dougherty has taken up a new strategy against strong teams.

Dougherty will split the pair up in order to give strength to Iowa’s other doubles teams. The plan was implemented Sunday, helping the Hawkeyes pick up the doubles point versus Missouri.

Things won’t get easier for the duo when it heads down to Louisiana on March 16 to take on LSU’s No. 39 team of Whitney Wolf and Keri Frankenberger.

“They have gotten a win over the No. 15 team in the country,” Dougherty said. “They are doing all the right things. Jess and Sonja just got to keep playing they way they have been playing, and the better team will win.”


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