May 24, 2011
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University of Iowa junior Sonja Molnar and senior Jessica Young will play Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships doubles tournament. Molnar and Young will face Anouk Tigu and Claudine Paulsen of Arkansas, the No. 14 doubles team in the nation according to the ITA. Stanford University is hosting the NCAA Division I Championships at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Palo Alto, Calif. A link to a live video stream is available on the women’s tennis schedule page at hawkeyesports.com.
Molnar and Young earned one of 24 at-large bids to join the 32-team doubles championships field. Molnar and Young were one of three Big Ten doubles team to be selected, joining Brooke Bolender and Denise Muresan of Michigan and Northwestern’s Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton. Molnar and Young are the third duo in program history to earn a doubles championships berth, as Molnar and Merel Beelen were selected in 2010 and Toni Neykova and Shera Wiegler made back-to-back appearances in 1999 and 2000.
Molnar and Young own a 13-6 (6-3 Big Ten) record that includes five wins against nationally ranked opponents. The duo won five of six matches to open dual match play. The stretch included wins against Rachael White and Allison Falkin of Illinois, the No. 15 duo in country at the time, and DePaul’s Katarina Milinkovic and Gia McKnight, the No. 55 doubles team at the time. Molnar and Young also ran off four straight victories that concluded with an 8-7 upset victory over then-No. 31 Myriam Sopel and Leslie Hureau of Indiana. Molnar and Young then fell to a pair of nationally ranked opponents in back-to-back matches. The duo rebounded by beating two nationally ranked opponents in consecutive matches, including Northwestern’s seventh-ranked Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton, 8-6, and then-No. 27 Amy Barton and Marina Bohrer of Michigan State, 8-3. Molnar and Young would split their final two regular season matches before beating Minnesota’s Alessandra Ferrazzi and Natallia Pintusava 8-5 at the 2011 Big Ten Championships.
Molnar and Young enter the doubles championships as the No. 35 tandem in the country, according to the ITA. The Hawkeye duo climbed as high as No. 24 in the ITA polls after beginning the season unranked.
Arkansas’ Anouk Tigu and Claudine Paulsen have won seven matches against ranked opponents this season en route to posting a 26-9 (10-3 SEC) overall record. The Razorback tandem enters the doubles championships on a six-match win streak.
LAST YEAR AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sonja Molnar and Merel Beelen were an at-large selection to the 2010 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships as a doubles team. Molnar and Beelen fell to Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist of Georgia, 6-2, 6-2 in the tournament’s first round.