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Iowa women's tennis upsets No. 38 DePaul

BY PATRICK MASON | MARCH 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa women's tennis team bounced back from a shutout loss to No. 17 Notre Dame on March 2 to upset No. 38 DePaul, 5-2, on Sunday in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes opened the DePaul meet slowly in doubles. Head coach Katie Dougherty continued to toy with pairings and spot placement, and the Black and Gold showed a couple new looks:

Freshmen Morven McCulloch and Shelby Talcott were paired at the top spot, and senior Sonja Molnar moved to the second slot for the first time in her career.

Iowa's freshmen doubles duo of Ellen Silver and Katie Zordani owned the lone doubles win at No. 3 and picked up an Iowa-best fifth win this season. The rest of the moves weren't the answer — the Blue Demons won two of the three matches.

Dougherty challenged her team to play with energy and to get match wins as the Hawkeyes entered singles down a point.

"We talked a lot after a disappointing performance at Notre Dame about competing and fire, and we still came out a little flat in doubles," she said. "But in singles, we came out ready to play and ready to win. I said, 'Somebody has to get out there and erase it quick. We need to get on the board early, and we need first-set wins,' and that's what we did."

Iowa played like a different team in the singles portion of the meet. Five of the six starters secured first-set wins, and Iowa eventually won five matches. Christina Harazin suffered the only singles loss, but took Kelsey Lawson to a third set in the No. 5 spot.

Molnar — who suffered her first loss of the season at Notre Dame — improved her team-best record to 7-1 as she defeated No. 121 Jasmin Kling, (6-4, 7-5).

"The girl I played was really good," said Molnar, the country's No. 110 player. "I kept my level the same all the way through, and she was a little more up and down. When she was up, she was really playing awesome, and I needed to just keep it going."

The senior said she and her teammates were disappointed in the 7-0 loss to the Fighting Irish because they didn't show their potential. They wanted to prove what they were made of against DePaul, she said.

McCulloch said the meet was crucial, and the crowd's intensity helped the Black and Gold run their record to 5-0 at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex. The freshman from Scotland said she can feel the fans' emotion and intensity and takes comfort knowing they're pulling for her.

"It feels great," she said. "You can feel the vibe in the place and it's awesome. It's definitely better when we have a big competition like this … you can hear everyone shouting and cheering you on, and it's a completely different atmosphere from on the road. The crowd support helps so much."

But the Hawkeyes will need to find a way to win without the home crowd as they prepare to embark on a six-meet road trip that spans three weeks. The first two matchups are against nationally ranked squads; they begin the trip by traveling to Lincoln, Neb., to face off against the No. 36 Cornhuskers in the first Big Ten meet of the season. Iowa will also face No. 30 Tulsa while in Lincoln.

Follow DI women's tennis reporter Patrick Mason on Twitter.


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