May 25, 2010
Merel Beelen and Sonja Molnar will compete in the NCAA doubles tournament this week in Athens, GA. The tournament is held at the Dan Magill Tennis complex on the campus of the University of Georgia. Beelen and Molnar, the 14th-ranked duo in the nation, will face Georgia’s eighth-ranked Nadja Gilchrist and Chelsey Gullickson Thursday afternoon following the conclusion of the NCAA singles competition. Singles play is schedule to begin at 9 a.m. (CT). Doubles competition will start no earlier than 1 p.m. (CT). Live results for the tournament can be found on the women’s tennis schedule page at www.hawkeyesports.com.
SENIOR Merel Beelen
Beelen, a native of Grubbenvorst, Holland, is in her fifth season with the Hawkeyes. After being slowed by an injury, the redshirt senior has rebounded to post the second most successful season of her Hawkeye career with a 15-16 overall record in singles play and 21-10 mark in doubles competition. The senior has compiled a 55-56 singles record and 49-36 doubles mark since joining the program in 2006.
SOPHOMORE Sonja Molnar
Molnar, a standout on the women’s tennis team, has competed in the number one singles position in both singles and doubles play throughout the 2009-10 season. The 67th-ranked singles player posted a 27-9 singles record and a 7-3 conference mark this season. She owns a 24-6 record in doubles competition, including a 16-4 mark teaming with Beelen. Molnar was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2009 and was selected to compete in the ITA All-American event last fall based on her No. 72 preseason national ranking. The Guelph, Ontario native has put together an impressive career singles record of 54-15, 16-5 in conference play, and a 33-13 doubles record.
Beelen and Molnar (16-4) become Iowa’s first doubles team to advance to the NCAA Tournament since Toni Neykova and Shera Wiegler competed in 2000. The pair teamed up prior to the Princeton match this season (Feb. 27th in Minneapolis, MN) and wasted no time leading their team to victory. The senior/sophomore matchup propelled Iowa to its first upset win of the season, 4-3, over the then 44th-ranked Tigers. The Hawkeyes downed the 26th-ranked doubles team of Hilary Bartlett and Taylor Marable, 8-6. Continued success in the number one doubles position boosted the Hawkeyes to a five-match win streak before falling to Big Ten Champion Michigan in regular season play.
Following the loss, Beelen and Molnar locked in their focus to string together nine consecutive wins and set Iowa up for a 17-1 record when winning the doubles point. The only loss came from the rematch with Michigan in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Although the Hawkeyes earned the doubles point, singles competitors could not hold on to preserve the spotless mark.
Some of the duo’s most notable wins are over Princeton’s 26th-ranked doubles pair (8-6) and the 21st-ranked challengers from Northwestern, Lauren Lui and Elena Chernyakova (8-3).
MOLNAR A REGULAR ON ALL-BIG TEN TEAM
Sophomore Sonja Molnar, a unanimous all-conference selection, continued to improve after her standout rookie season to post a 27-9 overall record this season at the No. 1 singles position. Molnar, now 67th in the country, once held the No. 55 spot. Teaming with senior Merel Beelen in doubles play, the duo soared up the charts to No. 13 after a win over 21st ranked Lauren Lui and Elena Chernyakova of Northwestern. Beelen and Molnar are currently ranked 14th with a 16-4 record.