April 15, 2011
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Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Friday, Aug. 13, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2010-11 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When Lynne Poggensee-Wei of the University of Iowa women’s tennis team signed to play collegiate tennis, it continued a family tradition. The senior is the third member of her family to compete in the sport at a Big Ten Conference institution.
Lynne’s father — Paul Wei — played at Northwestern. Her mother — Betsy Poggensee — played at Minnesota. The tradition continues further down the road, as her younger brother, Bryant, is a freshman on the men’s tennis team at Northern Illinois.
“It is kind of a family tradition, but it’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into it from everyone involved,” said the Hawkeye senior.
Poggensee-Wei always had the opportunity to play the sport. With her father being a tennis coach, she grew up around the game.
“Playing tennis was always an option, but it was never forced,” said Poggensee-Wei. “I’ve been playing for as far as I can remember. It’s been a long road, but it’s been fun.
“My parents were always very involved with me, and my dad was my coach. One of them always traveled with me to tournaments… they were the primary tennis figures in my life.”
After closing her prep career, Poggensee-Wei signed to play for the Hawkeyes, where she stepped into the lineup immediately when she arrived in Iowa City, playing at the No. 4-6 singles positions as a true freshman. She finished her debut season with 17 singles victories and 20 wins in doubles.
“Before I got here, Lynne was a staple at the top of the line-up, and she’s continued to do that,” said UI head coach Katie Dougherty. “She has done a great job at the top, playing high-level tennis day-in-and-day-out.”
The Illinois native made the move up the Iowa lineup as a sophomore and junior, playing at the three line as a sophomore and the two position as a junior. During the 2009-10 season, Poggensee-Wei won nine singles matches at No. 2 in helping the Hawkeyes advance to the NCAA Tournament.
“It (NCAAs) was really fun, we had a good time,” said Poggensee-Wei. “We would have liked to have done better, but were very happy with where we ended up. It was definitely a big improvement for the program, and I think everyone was very motivated and dedicated to the team.”
Poggensee-Wei’s motivation and dedication in the classroom has never wavered. Part of the reason she chose to attend the University of Iowa was the school’s strong academic reputation in civil engineering.
“I really liked the academic program here,” said Poggensee-Wei. “I pretty much knew what I wanted to do. I didn’t know the specifics when I came in as a freshman, but I knew the idea of where I wanted to go in terms of structural design.”
Being a student-athlete is tough; add in the day-to-day rigors of a civil engineering major and it makes everyday tasks that much more difficult. Poggensee-Wei’s commitment to being a “student-athlete” is what sets her apart.
“You have to make a commitment to your team, your academics and everyone involved,” said Poggensee-Wei, who earned Academic All-Big Ten honors as a junior. “You’re practicing 2-3 hours a day on top of going to classes, doing homework and getting things done.
“You still want to have the social experience that every college student wants to have. It’s a lot of time management.”
Dougherty credits Poggensee-Wei for her balancing act with athletics and academics, while also being one of the team leaders for the Hawkeyes.
“Lynne is a very organized person,” said Dougherty. “She’s a fantastic student and she leads by example. She knows how to get all of her things completed and does a good job with the younger players encouraging them… getting and keeping them on track.
“She has a way of corralling her team up and getting everyone on the same page.”
Poggensee-Wei needs to work her magic and get the Hawkeyes on the same page down the stretch if the squad wants to make a repeat NCAA Tournament appearance. Iowa is 5-12 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten with four regular season matches remaining.
“It’s been a little bit rocky… we’ve had our ups and downs,” said Poggensee-Wei of her senior season. “We need to keep improving each weekend, and that’s been the goal of our whole semester.”
Dougherty is looking to Poggensee-Wei for a final surge closing out her Hawkeye career.
“Lynne has the ability to play at a very, very high level,” said Dougherty. “When she can, she can beat anyone in the Big Ten. We need her to do that and step up. She’s so versatile in doubles that I can put her with anybody on the team and I know that at any spot they can win. She’ll have her opportunities, she just has to take them and run with it.”
With her tennis career winding down and a private engineering job lined up in Houston, Poggensee-Wei is looking to go out on top.
“I’d like to end my career strong, on a positive note… it’s the final leg,” she said.