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Women’s tennis on the bubble for Big Ten tournament berth

BY JOSH HICKS | APRIL 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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The odds are looking slim for the Iowa women’s tennis team to make the Big Ten Tournament this year. Only 10 teams make the tournament and as it currently sits, Iowa is 12th.

For the Hawkeyes to break into the tournament, they’re going to have to win their last two contests of the season this weekend against No. 27 Northwestern Saturday and No. 51 Illinois on April 19.

On top of that, Illinois has to lose its match against Nebraska — a team that has yet to win a Big Ten match this year — on Saturday for the Hawks to make the cut.

Iowa (8-11, 2-7) will start the weekend with a trip to Evanston, Illinois, to face Northwestern (12-6, 7-2). Evanston is the location for the Big Ten Tournament this year.

Since 1998, Northwestern and head coach Claire Pollard have only lost one Big Ten Tournament. That’s right, only one. Purdue defeated the Wildcats in the semifinals during the 2012 season.

“Northwestern is a great team,” Iowa head coach Katie Dougherty said. “We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

This will be the first time facing Northwestern for freshmen Anastasia Reimchen and Zoe Douglas, who have seen a lot of action high in the lineup after Iowa lost senior and No. 1 singles player Shelby Talcott.

“I’ve heard they’re a strong team,” Reimchen said. “It’s not going to be easy, but we’re a good team, and we just need to stick to our game plan.”

Northwestern has won four out of its last five matches, with a loss to No. 35 Georgia Tech coming on April 8. Most recently, the Wildcats had a two-win weekend last weekend in which they beat No. 61 Minnesota on April 11 and Wisconsin on April 12.

Iowa hasn’t defeated Northwestern since 1992, when they won 5-4 in Iowa City. Iowa has only defeated the Wildcats in two meetings, trailing in the series 41-2. Last year, No. 12 Northwestern won, 5-2, in Evanston.

Illinois has only Iowa and Nebraska left to play this season. The Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini are tied in the all-time series at 25. Iowa took the win last year when the team traveled to Champagne and defeated then-No. 42 Illinois, 4-3.

“Anyone in the Big Ten is a good team,” Douglas said. “We’re just going to go in there, fight, and hopefully, we come out on top.”

Iowa is going to need two big wins this weekend in order to make the tournament, but if Illinois beats Nebraska on Saturday, that’ll be it for the Hawks’ season.

“We need to go for it this weekend,” Dougherty said. “We’re going to do everything we can to put ourselves in a good position and finish.”


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