Hawkeye women's tennis returns to conference play

BY MIKE MAIENZA | MARCH 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team will return to conference play this weekend after playing three matches in California over spring break.

The Hawkeyes will travel to Penn State today to play the No. 30 Nittany Lions, then head to Columbus, Ohio, on March 31 to take on No. 57 Ohio State. Today’s match will begin at 5 p.m., and the match against the Buckeyes will begin at 10 a.m.

The last time the Hawkeyes took the court for a conference match, they brought home a victory against the Illinois. Now the team looks to build more conference momentum this weekend and carry it through the rest of the season.

“Spring break was good in that it prepared us with three quality matches,” Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said. “We’ll be on the road, and Penn State is a very good team. We’ve seen this level, we compete at this level, now we’ve gotten a win here with the win over Illinois, so we just need to keep it going.”

Wins this weekend would be huge for the Hawkeyes as they continue to try to improve on their No. 69 ranking and earn a spot in the NCAAs at the end of the season.

One player who has been a cornerstone for the team all season is junior Ruth Seaborne. She is ranked 85th in the nation in singles, and she should continue to keep climbing the rankings.

Seaborne said she expects her successful play to continue.

“I feel like with every match that I play I’m gaining more confidence, but at this point of the season, you start playing your best tennis, so that’s normal,” the London native said. “This is the time when everything kind of comes together, so you just need to keep getting those wins. It’s an important part of the season to get wins for the ranking.”

If the team wants to continue to add to the victory column, then Seaborne is going to need to stay hot. She understands how important every match is, because every remaining opponent on the schedule is a conference foe.

Another player who has been a huge contributor for the Hawkeyes is freshman Caitlin Hindmarsh. She came into the spring season with something to prove, and so far, she has done a great job, going 8-3 in her singles matches.

“After the fall that I had, [this success] is kind of a bit of a surprise,” she said. “But we have all been working hard, so it’s not really too surprising. The competition is still tough “

If the Hawkeyes can gain two victories this weekend, it will put them above .500 for conference play with a record of 3-2. While the goal is to finish in the top half of the conference at the end of the season, two victories is the current objective, the head coach said.

“I want to see more consistent play — getting two doubles points on the weekends is huge for us,” Dougherty said. “I think Ruth has stepped up, Shelby [Talcott] has stepped up; Caitlin has stepped up big time. When we are competing well, we can compete with anyone. We have to get good starts and be able to close out matches. I think the next month is going to be good for us.”

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