Hawkeyes look to defeat Drake and win the state

BY JOSH HICKS | MARCH 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team has secured victories over UNI and Iowa State this season. This afternoon, the Hawkeyes (7-6, 1-3) host Drake, their last in-state rival for the season in a dual match that gives them the opportunity to “win” the state.

The Bulldogs are also in the hunt to be the best Division-I team in the state. They defeated Iowa State, 4-1, earlier this season; Iowa also beat Iowa State, 4-1.

After Drake plays Iowa today, it will go on to face UNI on Saturday in its first conference game of the season.

“It’s always important to us to win the state,” Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said. “It’s always one of our team goals.”

Drake has a record of 13-4 and has not started Missouri Valley play this season. The Bulldogs have won six of their last seven and most recently defeated Upper Iowa, 7-0, on Sunday. Before that dual, they fell to Columbia on March 17.

Iowa had a close match against Drake last year; Hawks battled and won, 4-3, in Des Moines.

“[The Bulldogs] compete really hard,” Dougherty said. “[Coach Sadhaf Pervez] got them going and doing well. They’re a scrappy team, and they’re not going to give it to us. We’re going to have to come out with a lot of energy and take it from them.”

Iowa is going to have to bring the fire against Drake, and the players on the team seemed poised for a chance to take the state title.

“We need to come out with a lot of energy,” senior Ellen Silver said. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work as a team, we know what to expect, and we’re ready for them.”

The Hawkeyes have the edge in the all-time series against the Bulldogs, 31-5. In addition, Iowa also has a streak to maintain, ait has beaten Drake in their last 12 meetings. In fact, the Hawks haven’t lost in the rivalry since 1992.

One big matchup to look forward to is between the two players that have played the No. 1 singles positions for their respective teams all season. Senior Shelby Talcott holds a 9-3 record for the Hawkeyes this season, and junior Mariel Ante of Drake is 9-8 for the Bulldogs.

Hawkeye freshman Zoe Douglas has been seeing a lot of action in the doubles lineup lately, paired with senior Katie Zordani. The two Zs have won four of their last five, and they expect to make another strong appearance in today’s match.

Despite it being her first year as a Hawkeye, Douglas knows the importance of Drake.

“I know I’ve just come in, but it would be an awesome thing to win the state the first year I’m here,” she said. “We’re coming off a close match, and I think the team is ready to go out with a lot of energy and perform well.”

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

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