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Doubles point crucial to success for women’s tennis team

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | MARCH 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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As the Iowa women’s tennis team is in the midst of Big Ten play, the squad knows winning the doubles point in a match is crucial.

But this has not been a simple task for the Hawkeyes.

Finding the right combination of teammates is critical for success. Pairing the two best players is not always the best strategy, but pairing two players who complement each other tends to be the approach most coaches take.

“We are still trying to figure that out,” head coach Katie Dougherty said. “It may be [because of] combos, it may be matches. We are still changing it and tweaking it. It is a work in progress.”

The Hawkeyes are 4-1 in matches when earning the doubles point. Their only loss came to Missouri as lineup changes were made because of one player’s illness.

However, it has been difficult for Iowa to pick up the victory without the doubles point. The women have gone 0-8 in matches in which they dropped the point.

“The doubles point creates momentum going into singles,” senior Alexis Dorr said. “When you have the doubles point, I feel as though the team has more confidence and more in control of how the matches goes.”

In order to claim the doubles point, two out of three duos for Iowa must win their matches. If they take the best out of three series, one point is awarded. Six singles matches follow the doubles play, and a single point is awarded for each singles win.

Dougherty noted how difficult it is to win without the doubles point.

“Three singles wins is tough enough against good opponents,” Dougherty said. “Getting four out of six singles wins is a difficult task. We don’t want to have a sense of relief after a doubles win, we don’t want a letdown. It is a race.”

The Hawkeyes do have one bright spot at doubles.

With the exception of the Missouri match, senior Jessica Young and junior Sonja Molnar have played together at the top spot and have been the one constant for the Hawkeyes. The combo has climbed to the No. 46 spot in the country with an outstanding 8-3 record.

“They are a great team; they complement each other well,” Dougherty said. “They have a lot of firepower. They can hit certain teams off the court. Sonja has great hands up there, and Jess’ hands have gotten so much better. They are competitive and feisty.”

Iowa swept Penn State in doubles Sunday, claiming the point en route to a 5-2 team victory over the Nittany Lions.

“We have had different combinations and have tried different things,” Young said. “I think we have found the right combo that works. This weekend has two doubles teams ranked at the one position, so it is important for me and Sonja. The other two doubles teams that they have are very, very strong.”


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