Hawkeyes Prepare for Conference Play

March 22, 2011

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The University of Iowa women’s tennis team will open its Big Ten Conference schedule on the road this weekend. Iowa will play No. 71 Ohio State (8-6 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center at 5 p.m. (CST) on Friday before facing Penn State (5-8 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) Sunday at noon (CST). The Nittany Lions will host the Hawkeyes at the Sarni Tennis Center. Iowa is 2-5 in road matches this season.

“We’re ready for the Big Ten season to start and it doesn’t get more exciting than opening up in Columbus on a Friday night. Ohio State and Penn State are both talented teams that have played tough schedules and we expect battles. We’ll need to compete well and play our best tennis this weekend.”

The Buckeyes have posted a 6-1 home record that includes three shutout victories and three victories by a 6-1 margin. Ohio State boasts the ITA’s No. 69 duo, Gabby Steele and Kelsey Haviland. The pair has a 5-7 record in dual matches . The back end of the Buckeyes singles line-up has been a strength, as three individuals have posted a 12-0 record at the No. 6 position.

The Nittany Lions enter the weekend with a 3-5 home record. Seven of their 11 dual matches have been decided by a single point, with Penn State going 2-5. The Nittany Lions’ top player is Petra Januskova. She has posted a 7-3 record in dual matches. Penn State will host Temple Friday before facing Iowa.

Iowa went 1-1 in matches against LSU and Tulane. The Hawkeyes fell 6-1 to the No. 55 Tigers March 16 at W.T. “Dub” Robinson Stadium. Junior Sonja Molnar provided the Hawkeyes lone point with a 7-5, 7-5 win over No. 56 Whitney Wolf. Iowa would rebound from the loss to beat the Green Wave 4-3 on March 18. The win was the Hawkeyes first in a match decided by a single point and snapped a six-match losing skid.

Junior Sonja Molnar is currently on a four-match win streak in singles. The streak includes victories over Katlilyn Ritchie (Missouri), Madeleine Geibert (Nebraska), No. 56 Whitney Wolf (LSU) and Mariam Kurdadze (Tulane). Molnar’s victory over Wolf was her first of the season against a ranked opponent. Molnar has played at the No. 1 position in all 11 of Iowa’s dual matches, posting an 8-3 overall record. She is ranked No. 114 by the ITA.

The Hawkeyes have swept the doubles matches in all three of their wins (UNI, Miami (OH), Tulane) this season. Dating back to last season, the Hawkeyes have now won 13 straight matches in which they have swept all three doubles matches.