Women's tennis to face Drake

BY ALEC CLASEN | MARCH 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team is preparing for a cluster of road matches, including their first two opponents in their Big Ten schedule, in the coming weeks. The first hurdle in the schedule starts with Drake at 3 p.m. today in the state capital.

“We are pretty excited,” junior Morven McCullough said. “It’s an in-state game, so everyone’s pretty pumped.”

The Bulldogs are the No. 72 team in the nation and are coming off two impressive wins. They are on a seven-game winning streak and are currently one of the hottest teams in college tennis.

“Drake’s hot right now,” Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said. “[The Bulldogs] beat Wisconsin, they beat Nebraska — two teams that we lost to last year. So we’re at their home court; we got to be ready to go.”

Even though the Bulldogs have an impressive winning streak and résumé, the Hawkeyes are confident in their abilities. The Hawks are hoping to ride the momentum from their recent two home wins into their upcoming match.

“We feel good,” Dougherty said. “The team’s playing well, we’ve progressed well, and we’ve been playing our best tennis here, working through some things.”

With a quick turnaround from their last match, the Hawkeyes have tried to stay on their toes and keep their bodies fresh.

“Drake’s a pretty feisty team,” junior Shelby Talcott said. “We’ve been working on consistency, fine-tuning everything. We didn’t have a lot of time, so just points and stuff like that.”

The day before the match, the Hawkeyes held a slightly different practice from what they were accustomed to. In order to give her team a realistic feel for their opponents’ home court , Dougherty dimmed the lights in the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center to better mimic the courts at Drake.

“We dimmed the lights today because we know that when we go to Drake, it’s a lot darker in that facility,” McCullough said.

Dougherty wanted to prepare her team as much as possible for the match. She was pleased with how the team performed in practice.

“Their place is a little darker then ours,” Dougherty said. “The courts are a little bit faster, so to get ready for that we went with our lower light setting, and the team adapted right away.”

Because the match with Drake is the initial match in their string of road meets, the Hawkeyes have sharpened their mental focus, getting their mindset right to come out of the trip successfully.

“Just focusing on sleep, eating right, making sure we have our schoolwork stuff covered,” Talcott said. “Obviously, we can’t help that it’s an away match, and at the end of the day, it’s going to be your racket talking, so where you’re playing doesn’t really matter.”

In the away matches, the Hawkeyes will also begin their Big Ten schedule, facing Nebraska and Minnesota before returning home to Iowa City.

In between those two matches, the Hawkeyes will travel to South Carolina to take on the College of Charlestown in an their first outdoor meet of the spring.

“Good teams win on the road, and we’re a good team, so we need to prove that starting [today],” Dougherty said.

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