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Molnar ready to take next step

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | MAY 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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Sonja Molnar has always been competitive.

She may not look it, but the 5-5 junior with the bubbly personality was just named to her third consecutive All-Big Ten team.

“She is a great competitor,” Iowa’s women’s tennis head coach Katie Dougherty said. “Technically she is very sound, and she moves very well on the court.

“She has an unbelievable desire to win — she can literally will herself to a win, and she has a lot of experience now. She has to put it all together.”

The Guelph, Ontario, Canada, native is ranked No. 103 by the International Tennis Association after recording a 16-6 singles record. Molnar defeated four top-100 singles players during the spring season.

“She had a little lull in the middle of the season,” Dougherty said. “That set her back a little bit, but she really turned it on at the end and went 7-3 in the Big Ten. I expect if she continues to fire on all cylinders, she will have a great [next] year.”

Being named All-Big Ten isn’t enough for Molnar, though. On Wednesday she was selected to play in the NCAA doubles championship for the second year in a row, this time with senior Jessica Young. She has been ranked in doubles with three different partners and has climbed as high as No. 13 nationally.

However, despite her success in singles, she has never made it to the NCAA singles tournament.

“Making NCAA for singles [is my goal],” Molnar said. “I need to have a better fall. I don’t get many opportunities to play ranked players, but when I do, it is against top-20 girls. This year, I did well against them, but I lost in the tiebreakers, and obviously I lost and that didn’t help my ranking at all, which is unfortunate. I’m taking my experience in those close matches and hopefully, next year, I will be able to pull them out.”

Losing three players this season to graduation, the Hawkeyes will bring back three seniors-to-be and one sophomore. A quartet of recruits will come to Iowa City in the fall to round out a very inexperienced squad.

Molnar, who is the team’s most seasoned player, will step into a larger leadership role than she has been accustomed to.

“I have learned so much from her this season,” freshman Christina Harazin said. “I have looked up to her all year. I strive to perform like her … I just want to improve as much as her.

“Sonja is always really positive. Even if we do lose, we talk about the match, what we did well and not well, and what we need to do to improve on it. She is a bigger cheerer — you always feel as if she is there for you.”


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