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Women's tennis looks forward rather than back

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | MAY 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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Coming off of a 17-7 2010 campaign, Katie Dougherty had high hopes for the No. 30 nationally ranked Iowa women's tennis team.

Four days after the 2011 spring season came to a close, the second-year head coach looked back upon the year with a far different attitude.

"I knew going into the season we would have a lot of quality opponents," Dougherty said. "Our schedule wasn't padded. I knew we would have a lot matches that could go either way, I wouldn't have been shocked, but we are disappointed. That is part of the deal when you play a tough schedule."

The Hawkeyes finished the season with a 6-16 record.

Players and coaches pointed to inconsistent play over the entirety of the season as the reason for the poor year.

"We weren't playing our best tennis at the same time," Dougherty said. "We had good performances from a lot of different players; our doubles weren't where they needed to be. We had opportunities to put it all together. We had a couple of close matches, 4-3 matches.

"If we would've won half of them, our season would have been different."

Iowa played eight matches in which the victor won by two or fewer points. The Hawkeyes dropped five of those matches en route to their unsatisfactory record.

However, the team has taken the objective to look forward rather than dwell on the past.

The Hawkeyes' recruiting class includes three five-star recruits and was ranked the No. 19 recruiting class in the country by tennisrecruiting.net.

"I'm going to be looking at them to make an immediate impact in singles and in doubles," Dougherty said. "They all come in with a wealth of experience, a couple of them at juniors and a couple at the international level. The level won't be new, it is just balancing school and the Big Ten and a national schedule. That will be the piece that determines how well we do."

This year's team was top-heavy on experience. Three seniors and three juniors headlined the seven-woman team.

However, with the three seniors — Jessica Young, Alexis Dorr, and Lynne Poggensee-Wei — graduating, and no sophomores on the roster, next season's squad will have an new look.

"This year we had an older team with a lot of upperclassmen," freshman Christina Harazin said. "Next year, we are definitely going to have a younger team with five underclassmen. Hopefully they can win for us and continue to compete throughout the year. Our three seniors — Sonja [Molnar], Cassie [Escobar], and Ally [Majercik] — are going to be the leaders and are going to show us how to have a good season in the Big Ten.

"The three seniors are definitely going to help the freshmen coming in."

Molnar, who is the No. 99 singles player and was part of the No. 35 doubles team, has the most experience. Along with Escobar and Majercik, she will have to step into a leadership role.

"Sonja wants to close out her career on a high note," Dougherty said. "That has been a goal for herself. [Harazin] has really progressed well for herself and turned into a completely different player, really matured. Cassie did a great job, and Ally is right there. They all will need to do a great job in mentoring the younger players."


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