March 5, 2008
by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s tennis team continues to mold into a finely-tuned machine, rolling over its first seven opponents to open up the 2008 season.
The Hawkeyes, who are currently ranked No. 38 in the FILA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, are 7-0 overall, 1-0 in Big Ten action. The last time Iowa opened a season on a seven-game victory streak was in 1993-94. Northwestern currently holds the No. 1 ranking in the nation and is sitting atop first place with a record of 11-1, 2-0.
“Our team came back ready to play,” said UI head coach Daryl Greenan, the 2006 Big Ten Coach of the Year. “They came back in relatively good shape in January.”
The season looked promising early when Iowa dominated the Hawkeye Invitational in a battle of the “big four” between Iowa State, Drake and Northern Iowa, coming away with an outstanding 27-2 record.
The Hawkeyes opened Big Ten play at Minnesota on Sunday, March 2, and defeated the No. 45 Gophers, 6-1. The tennis team has a break in conference play and the next scheduled Big Ten team they face will be Indiana on March 22.
“Part of it is they just get those streaks going and some of it is scheduling,” Greenan said. “There are some teams ranked higher than us that have had huge wins against top 20 teams. I don’t want to take anything away from our strength of scheduling. We have played a pretty difficult schedule. We have matched up with at least six of those seven teams. It was close enough that it could have gone either way, but our girls are competing extremely well and they are getting better.”
The tennis team is headlined by seniors Milica Veselinovic and Jacqueline Lee, both whom have had a successful start to the 2008 campaign. Like the Iowa team, Veselinovic has won the past seven singles matches while improving to 13-4.
The combination of Lee and freshman Alexis Dorr in doubles matches has evolved into a potent pair with a 13-4 record. Veselinovic has found a strong partner in junior teammate Merel Beelen — they have posted a 12-4 record. Also bolstering the Hawkeye roster are senior Kayla Berry, sophomores Jennifer Barnes and Kelcie Klockenga and freshmen Jessica Young and Lynne Poggensee-Wei.
“Everyone has contributed,” Greenan said. “It is such a team performance right now. Everyone is stepping up when we need them to.”
The Hawkeyes travel to Colorado to face Colorado State on Friday, March 7, before taking on No. 24 Denver on Sunday, March 9, for their toughest test of the young season.
“It’s not so much the win streak, it’s the fact that we have come out on top against so many solid teams,” Greenan added. “That kind of gives me a little bit of confidence that we can live up to a lot of potential that the girls have. I’m cautiously optimistic that they will fulfill that potential.”
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