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Freshmen Zordani and Silver are the Hawkeyes' most reliable doubles duo

BY PATRICK MASON | MARCH 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa women's tennis team has a 6-6 record so far this season, and it picked up its first win on the road in Orlando, Fla., over spring break. Head coach Katie Dougherty has said numerous times that the tone of the meet is set during doubles play and that sometimes her team has come out flat.

But there has been one consistently strong aspect about the Hawkeyes' doubles play: the freshman duo of Katie Zordani and Ellen Silver.

The pair boasts a team-best 7-2 record in doubles, and the two have been a bright spot at the beginning of meets.

Zordani and Silver started the season playing in the No. 3 slot, but they have recently moved up to play at No. 2, where they have posted a3-0 record.

"Our game complements each other well," Zordani said. "[Silver] has a big serve, which makes it easier for me to poach; I have some more spin on my ball, which gives her time to poach as well."

The pair began the season playing together and picked up a couple wins, but Dougherty split up the players for three meets because she wasn't happy with their approach on the court.

"We split them up even though they won a few matches, because it didn't look good with their energy," Dougherty said. "I put it on them to change that, and they did — and we've got good results because of it."

They accounted for Iowa's lone doubles victory against then-No. 38 DePaul, something the two are proud of.

"We're both extremely competitive and aggressive," Silver said. "In doubles, the more aggressive team usually wins."

Zordani and Silver can trace their familiarity with each other back to their high-school playing days, when they saw a lot of one another in both junior and national tournaments.

Silver is from Michigan, and Zordani hails from Chicago, and the two faced each other frequently during tournaments because they both played in the Midwest region. They gained a competitive respect for one another, and when they both committed to Iowa to play tennis, they channeled their competitive respect into a good friendship off the court. They use that to feed off the other's emotions when paired on the court.

"Katie is super fiery out there, and anyone who has watched her play knows that," Dougherty said. "Ellen feeds off that energy well, and it really makes her better. You get to a point with your partner and know what to say to them to get them going."

The pair have such a close bond that they can finish each other's sentences.

"We can sense each other's game well," Zordani said.

"We know where we're going to be without even looking," Silver said, interrupting.

Dougherty said chemistry like that is rare, and it's something the third-year head coach said she's excited about. Both are young and can continue to build on their strong season, Dougherty said, which is a positive as the team moves into Big Ten play this weekend. Conference meets bring stiffer competition, higher stakes, and more chances to grow competitively.

Iowa has had some trouble finding the right mix in the doubles play, and Dougherty said it's still a work in progress. But she's happy that Zordani and Silver have clicked so well.

"You never know if it could fizzle out right now," the head coach said. "But they have been making each other better and complementing each other well — which is important."


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