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Ontario native turned Hawkeye excels

BY JOSH HICKS | SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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Hawkeye freshman Montana Crawford arrived on campus Aug. 15 and excelled at Iowa’s first contest of the year, the Gopher Invitational, just a few weeks later.

The women’s tennis up-and-comer from Rockwood, Ontario, Canada, earned first place in the Gold Flight singles and also in the Draw 10 doubles with partner Morven McCulloch.

However, the freshman may not have made it to Iowa City had it not been for a former Hawkeye.

“They found me because my coach, Sonja Molnar, was the No.1 player here,” Crawford said. “And she mentioned to coach that I was coming up, put in a good word for me.”

Molnar was a standout for the Hawkeyes from 2009-2012.

Because Crawford was very successful at John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute before coming to Hawkeye country, Paul Lydan, a faculty member at her high school, wasn’t shocked.

“I’m not surprised,” Lydan said, “She’s awesome. She was the Female Athlete of the Year here two years in a row, and it’s not a small school.”

As for how Crawford has played thus far, she thought it was a mixed bag of results at the Gopher Invitational. However, she followed that performance with a victory against Virginia’s Payton Robinette on Sunday.

“The beginning started off pretty rough,” Crawford said about the tournament in Minneapolis. “My first match was outside, and I did manage to win it, but I was making a lot of unforced errors.

“[As the tournament went on], each match I could feel myself getting stronger and more consistent, and by the finals match it was definitely the best match of the weekend.”

Because she improved as she went, Crawford’s mindset was a positive one heading to the Furman Fall Classic, a tournament featuring some teams from the strongest conferences in the country.

“The level of competition is going to be significantly higher — a bunch of ACC, SEC, very strong teams.” Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said. “One of the things we are working through is the new format change with no-add scoring. We’re fortunate to get a tournament under our belt using that scoring format.”

Crawford had a strong mentality heading into the weekend, which obviously paid off as exemplified by her play.

“This coming weekend, I want to pickup where I left off at the last tournament,” Crawford said. “Start strong right away and really move my feet.”

For Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty, recruiting from Canada was a no-brainer. Now that Crawford has a few matches under her belt, Dougherty said, there is still some work to do, but the potential is tremendous.

“I knew while recruiting her that she had a huge upside. She’s only going to get better,” Dougherty said. “She’s not the finished product yet.”

Follow @joshhicks90 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s tennis team.


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