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Hawkeyes drop from rankings

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | MARCH 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team failed to appear in the rankings this week for the first time this season.

Coming off a successful 2010 campaign, the women started the spring season ranked No. 30 with high expectations.

With a 4-3 loss at Missouri on Feb. 27, the women’s record dropped to 2-6 on the season. The Hawkeyes were not ranked in the next Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll.

“We want to be a ranked team, obviously,” head coach Katie Dougherty said. “It is good that we have that target off our backs now when we are going after teams. At the beginning of the season, teams were giving us their best shot, and now we are going to be coming with our best stuff.”

The unranked Hawkeyes will need all the help they can get as they take on No. 32 Nebraska at home on March 13. The Cornhuskers come into the match with a 10-1 record and a nine-match winning streak.

“We are going to have to play well because they aren’t going to give us very many errors, and I think we know that going into the match,” senior Jessica Young said. “So we have been preparing for the last week and a half. We are prepared to handle their team.”

Dougherty also has been tinkering with the doubles partners, trying to find the matchups that will win the doubles point. Despite the doubles pair of junior Sonja Molnar and Young being ranked No. 33 in the country, the women have failed to pickup the doubles point in three out of the last four matches.

Molnar and Young have gone 5-1 together on the season, but they will be challenged — they are expected to face Nebraska’s No. 76 duo of Madeleine Geibert and Stefanie Weinstein.

Lack of consistency has plagued the Hawkeyes all season, prompting extra attention from Dougherty in practice over the past 10 days.

“We decided two weeks ago that we would be in the hunt for wins,” she said. “It just makes us hungrier. It isn’t on anyone’s radar, we are just focused on Nebraska now and to put us in the situation that we need to be in to win.”

The Hawkeyes will play three matches in six days over spring break. After battling the Cornhuskers on Sunday, Iowa will head down to Louisiana to take on LSU in Baton Rouge on March 16 and Tulane on March 18 in New Orleans. With school out of the picture, the Hawkeyes have fewer distractions, freshman Christina Harazin said.

“Traveling and doing schoolwork has been tough on us, and knowing we are not in school, playing outside will put us in a better mood,” she said. “That’ll be good for us.”


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