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Hawkeye women's tennis prepares for ranked opponent

BY MIKE MAIENZA | JANUARY 30, 2013 5:00 AM

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Following the season opening 6-1 victory over Iowa State, the Iowa women’s tennis team will try to improve even more.

The Hawkeyes put up an impressive performance over the weekend. They won five of the six singles matches and two of the three doubles matches. Head coach Katie Dougherty couldn’t single out one performance that topped all others.

“It has to be a three-way tie,” she said. “Zordani winning love and love at number 4 … [Ruth] Seaborne at 1 [had a] convincing win … [Shelby] Talcott at 2 was off quickly.”

The upcoming match with No. 18 Notre Dame provides the Hawkeyes with their toughest meet yet this season and also serves up a great opportunity to see how the Hawkeyes measure up against a top-ranked team in the country.

Dougherty’s excitement was evident when asked what she expects from her team against the Irish.

“We look like a completely different team from last year,” she said, noting the 7-0 loss to the Fighting Irish last season. “The personalities, the strengths — we have matured a lot from last year. If we come out and play really strong in doubles and compete really well, we can do really great things out there.”

Because the Hawkeyes played so well in Ames this past weekend, their preparations for the upcoming match with the Fighting Irish will be slightly altered — but for the better.

Junior Seaborne easily disposed of her Cyclone opponent (6-1, 6-1). She knows the competition upcoming early next week will be a different experience from what she faced in Ames.

This is causing her to increase her work and practice even harder to prepare.

“I think it will be a completely different level entirely,” Seaborne said. “We’ve been playing well and that will help for Monday’s match with Notre Dame. Having the momentum coming off a good win, I know we’ll have a lot of confidence.”

The top-25 ranking doesn’t scare the Hawkeyes. Optimism has been instilled in each of the players — both singles and doubles — but that doesn’t mean they can to slack in practice, either.

Chemistry is a key word for the team of Seaborne and Morven McCulloch. They’ve continued to work on playing off each other in practice, making their styles more dynamic.

“So far, we have quite a bit of confidence in each other,” McCulloch said. “We work well together, with Ruth at the back and me at the net and just moving forward while we play. We work well as a team, and the way we both play suits the others game nicely.”

The match with the Fighting Irish provides the Hawkeyes with a great opportunity to prove they can compete with some of the nation’s best.

The Hawks are excited to see how they will match up with elite competition, including the head coach. She said the way her team practices will directly show in their upcoming performances.

“I want to see how they respond next Monday against a top-20 team,” Dougherty said. “Coming into Monday, some of our main goals are to make them compete, make them see a lot of balls, make them win points from us; we are not going to give them anything for free, and then we’ll see how we look from there.”


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