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Tough competition tests Hawks

BY IAN MURPHY | OCTOBER 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Top-level competition lends itself to top-level play, and the Iowa women’s tennis team got that top play over last weekend.

The Hawkeyes played in the Furman Fall Classic in South Carolina, where six of the other teams were ranked in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings of last season, including N. 6 Alabama, No. 11 Vanderbilt, No. 13 Clemson, No. 26 South Carolina, No. 31 Florida State, and No. 34 Tennessee.

Head coach Katie Dougherty was pleased with the way her team handled the tough opponents.

“Playing those ACC and SEC teams, there are great players top to bottom,” Dougherty said. “No easy matches out there, that’s for sure.”

Overall, there were 18 preseason top-125 ranked players at the tournament. Five Vanderbilt and Alabama players rank in the top 125 preseason singles rank, three from Clemson, two players each from South Carolina and Florida State, and one from Tennessee.

The Hawkeyes lone win over a ranked opponent was senior Morven McCulloch’s victory over South Carolina’s Brigit Folland, who sits at No. 114 in the polls.

“It gave us a lot of confidence; we’ve won more matches than we have in the past playing that tournament,” senior Ellen Silver said.

Despite the low finish, things weren’t all bad for Dougherty.

“Overall, we competed much better than the weekend before against better competition,” she said.

However, some of the players saw room for improvement from matches over the weekend, especially in doubles play — the highest finishing pair over the weekend, freshman Anastasia Reimchen and Silver, took sixth.

“As a whole team, doubles [needs improvement], improving, finishing balls, rally balls on the baseline, getting a little bit grittier, not giving the opponent anything.” senior Shelby Talcott said.

Talcott and junior Annette Dohanics finished eighth in their bracket. McCulloch and senior Katie Zordani finished seventh. The week before at the Gopher Invite however, the team of McCulloch and freshman Montana Crawford took first in their bracket. 

One takeaway from the meet for both Dougherty and Talcott was the way the Hawkeyes handled long matches.

“All of my matches were long, three setters, that’s a part of my game that I’ve been working on — kind of outlasting people,” Talcott said.

As a team, the Hawkeyes played eight three set matches. Talcott played three of those.

“It definitely for the most part paid off this weekend. It was nice to see the work I’ve put in over the summer,” she said. 

With back-to-back tournament weekends under their belt, the Hawkeyes will take two weeks off before they head to ITA regionals in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

“Getting to see the team two weeks in a row gives us a good basis to go off of, things to work on in the next couple of weeks,” Dougherty said. “She there will be time to make individual adjustments on the court, and with two preseason tournaments behind them, the Hawkeyes attention is now turned toward their next tournament. 

“When we compete its usually short weeks since were leaving town. But we’ll get a couple extra workouts in and we’ll get a chance to amp up the fitness here.”


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