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Tennis set for ITA Regionals

BY JOSH HICKS | OCTOBER 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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During the Hawkeyes’ two weekends off from competition, the Iowa women’s tennis team put in extra work conditioning, and the players believe they are ready to make an impact at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

There are four Hawkeye seniors slated to compete in the five-day tournament, which will begin Thursday. The seniors are Shelby Talcott, Morven McCulloch, Ellen Silver, and Katie Zordani.

Talcott and McCulloch will compete in the main draw of the singles tournament at the ninth and 10th seeds, respectively. This means they do not have to play any qualifying rounds. In singles, Silver and Zordani will start play today in the qualifying round.

The latter duo will have a lot of tennis to play in order to advance to the main draw. Both Hawks will have to work their way through two qualifying rounds.

McCulloch and Talcott couldn’t decide whether not having to compete in the qualifying matches will be beneficial or not.

“More matches could be a good thing, or more matches could be a bad thing,” said Talcott, who said she typically sees herself improve match-by-match during tournaments. “Going into first round main draw without playing any matches could be tough.”

McCulloch had similar mixed feelings, saying sometimes it’s a good thing to have more matches and sometimes it’s a bad thing.

For the doubles portion of the tournament, which will begin Friday, Zordani and Talcott will team up, as will McCulloch and Silver. Talcott and Zordani have a 2-1 doubles record together this season, and McCulloch and Silver will play together for the first time this year.

Since Iowa’s last tournament, the Furman Classic on Sept. 26-28, and because the squad has had a couple weeks off from playing other schools, the team’s practice has gotten more rigorous.

Talcott said the Hawkeyes have added either conditioning or weight training every morning since returning from their last competition. McCulloch noted that although the practices have been more trying, it is good for them.

“You can see the conditioning working when we practice,” she said. “It will definitely pay off this weekend.”

Six-year head coach Katie Dougherty agrees with McCulloch that she sees her players’ fitness and endurance improving in practice.

“The extra conditioning shows on the court when we’re doing drills; they look stronger later in the day,” Dougherty said. “We’ve had some great time off after Furman and have gotten some great training in.”

The winner of the regional will go on to play at the National Indoors in New York. Dougherty said she’s ran a few practices indoors since Furman to prepare for the tournament. In 2011, nowex-Hawkeye Sonja Molnar lost in the finals of the regional, and last year Talcott made it to the quarterfinals.

“The ultimate goal is to have a Hawkeye qualify,” Dougherty said. “Shelby is playing very, very good tennis right now.”

The senior hopes to ride that momentum into the tournament.

“It’s the fall, so that’s what this is all about,” Talcott said. “More than wins or losses, it’s about preparing for spring. It’ll be a good opportunity for us to get some good wins before we end our fall season.”

Dougherty is excited at the chance to face some more high-level competition. She said that she is excited to get a look at the good teams and players that will be in their region this season. She thinks that the seniors have a real chance at making some noise.

“Everyone sends their best players, and we have a great opportunity with our four seniors,” she said. “The team has done a really great job of getting themselves into shape for this tournament, and it’s a confidence-builder while they’re out on the court.”

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


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