Honing their games


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For the Iowa women’s tennis team, a long week of practice, devoid of matches, isn’t an unwelcome period of boring routine.

A week of straight practice is a time for the Hawkeyes to polish their play in preparation to dominate their next opponent while also recuperating.

“It was a combination of recovery in a sense that we could pull back the reins on some of the bodies that were a little bit more beat up,” said head coach Katie Dougherty.

Without the anticipation of an immediate match, most teams would settle in to a week of practice in a run-of-the-mill, even-keel fashion. The Hawkeyes, however, planned to use it to their advantage.

“We always have things we need to work on to prepare for the next match,” said freshman Aimee Tarun.

For the Hawks, no two practices are ever really the same. A fresh plan on the to-do list helps to keep players actively engaged and on their toes.

“The coaches do a pretty good job of having every day be something a little bit different,” said junior Shelby Talcott. “We will do some of the same drills but generally overall the practices are pretty varied.”

The Hawkeyes take pride in their practice opportunities. For them, this isn’t a time to just show up. It is a time for them to improve and to accomplish the goals they have for that week.

“We’ll work on movement for doubles or hitting your spots for singles … within a week, we get everything that we need to work on done,” Talcott said.

No member of the squad leaves the practice court free of sweat. For the players, bettering themselves is a goal every time the team gathers. Every day is another day to build upon the foundation they laid the previous day.

“We’re going to work on something that we need to improve on from the week before,” Dougherty said. “Whether that’s technically, tactically, fitness is always a component of every practice. Competing is always in every single practice.”

For this team the expectations are high. The coaching staff expects 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time.

“The intensity is always something that has to be there,” Dougherty said.

On different days of the week the team meets in sections, with different players practicing at different times throughout the day.

These days offer a different opportunity with more personalized instruction from coaches, compared with a full-roster practice.

“When we do small groups … we get to tailor the practice a little bit more to the groups we have,” Dougherty said. “They do individual hits outside of practice; that’s when we work on very specific things with each player.”

With conference play rapidly approaching, the Hawkeyes hope to continue their effort and work ethic. With usually two matches a week in the Big Ten schedule, full weeks to prepare like this past one are a welcome break.

“We’ll take the break when we can … it’s kind of our last breath of fresh air before we really get going,“ Dougherty said. “We had really productive days, and I expect good things from these guys.”

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