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Hawkeyes take confident, young tennis team into conference play

BY MIKE MAIENZA | MARCH 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team (5-3) will open its conference schedule against Nebraska (12-1) at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

Nebraska has experienced early season success so far this year and is the No. 10 team in the country.

The Cornhuskers’ high ranking doesn’t have the young Hawkeyes nervous about the match. Rather, the team is full of excitement and eager to see what they can do against one of the country’s top teams. The Hawkeyes are off to a good start on the year, and the few losses they have endured have all been tight matches.

Sophomore Morven McCulloch said she likes what she has seen from her teammates this season, and she is eager to see how they will do today. She hopes her teammates can carry over this season’s success into conference play.

“I think that the main thing is belief,” McCulloch said. “Right now, our tennis is good enough to beat these teams, but it’s when we're in situations where we have just won the doubles point or where we are up 3-1 that we just need to believe that we are good enough to win.”

McCulloch also understands she is part of a young team and knows that with youth, certain aspects are crucial if players want accomplish their conference goals.

“One thing that we have, and that I think is important, is team cohesion,” the native of St. Andrews, Scotland, said. “Knowing that your team is behind you in a tight situation really helps take the pressure off when you’re playing. “

For a team whose two oldest players are juniors, the squad is playing with the poise and experience of a veteran squad. One of the juniors for the Hawkeyes, Christina Harazin, is off to a great start on the year; she has won six singles matches while also helping secure the double’s point on a regular basis.

Her upperclassmen leadership is something her team will depend on as she enters her third year of Big Ten play. As she gears up for the conference, Harazin said knows what it takes to win in the Big Ten and has been sharing it with her teammates.

“Staying positive and keep improving every day is going to help us with Big Ten play,” she said. “Preparation is key to have success in the Big Ten with all the talented ranked teams.”

Today’s match is a prime opportunity for a Black and Gold squad that has come so close to breaking through against a ranked opponent, especially one that is ranked in the top 10. The team suffered two heartbreaking losses to then-No. 18 Notre Dame and then-No. 36 Oklahoma, falling 4-3 in both matches.

The team’s other junior, Ruth Seaborne, said she knows that the Hawkeyes are on the cusp of success and just need one breakthrough win to get there.

Seaborne and doubles partner McCulloch have done an outstanding job playing the No. 1 doubles slot. The two have played so well together that they were ranked No. 43in last week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Seaborne said she knows her teammates have it in them to be great, and feels the team is ready to take the next step.

“We need to continue working hard day in and day out in practice and just know that even though we have had some tough, close matches against top teams,” Seaborne said. “These upcoming matches against Big Ten schools are great opportunities to test our resilience and push that little bit harder to come out with a win.”


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