Four ranked opponents ahead for Hawkeyes


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College women’s tennis doesn’t get much tougher than in the Big Ten.

As the Hawkeyes hit the heart of the league schedule, the Iowa women’s tennis team (4-9, 1-1) will take on four ranked teams in its next six matches. This weekend brings home meetings with Indiana and Purdue. The match with the Hoosiers is set for an 11 a.m. start Saturday, and the contest against the Boilermakers will begin at noon April 3. Both will be played at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

Preparation entering those matches is particularly crucial to the team’s success. How will the Hawkeyes execute that?

“Mentally, it’s tennis,” senior Alexis Dorr said. “It’s going to be tennis regardless of how many matches you play. It’s important to keep on focusing and have fun while you are playing.”

Indiana is not one of the four ranked teams, and while being winless in Big Ten play (0-3), the Hoosiers own a 10-6 overall record.

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“We won’t pay too much attention to [the opposition’s] ranking,” senior Jessica Young said. “We have to just go out and compete, and I think the results will come with that. Each match is going to be really tough; the team that wants it more is going to win.”

On April 3, Iowa will face No. 58 Purdue. No. 18 Northwestern, No. 8 Michigan, and No. 60 Michigan State will also appear in the Hawkeyes’ immediate future.

Earlier in the season, when matches are played at a less frequent rate, it is very important to prepare for stretches like these.

“You get the opportunity when you aren’t playing as frequently to get as fit as you can,” head coach Katie Dougherty said. “You are more prepared. You know the days you can push and the days you can lighten it up.”

Iowa has lost seven out of its last nine matches. The women have gone 1-2 this season while playing in Iowa City.

However, everything looked a bit brighter when the Hawkeyes took down the Nittany Lions at Penn State on Sunday to improve their record to 1-1 in Big Ten play.

“It has been a tough couple of weeks, but I think we are starting to get into the groove,” Dorr said.

At the No. 1 spot in singles, No. 101 Sonja Molnar will battle with Indiana’s No. 78 Leslie Hurea, and the 46th-ranked duo of Young and Molnar will bring its 8-3 record to the court for a matchup against No. 31 Hurea and Myriam Sopel.

“We are ready,” Dougherty said. “We are playing good tennis. We have played against some of the best teams in the country. The level of tennis isn’t something new. We are ready to go.

“Playing the Big Ten matches are the most fun; we are excited to get a couple home ones.”

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