April 26, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The University of Iowa women’s tennis team was defeated by No. 34 Minnesota in a five-hour opening round match of the Big Ten Championships on Thursday. The sixth-seeded Golden Gophers beat the 11th-seeded Hawkeyes, 4-2, at the Varsity Tennis Center in Columbus, Ohio. Senior Sonja Molnar won the 100th singles match of her career in the loss, becoming the third Hawkeye in program history to win 100 career matches.
Iowa’s match was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. on outdoor courts, but rain postponed the action. Iowa and Minnesota resumed play at approximately 6 p.m. in Ohio State’s indoor facility.
“It was a great match out there tonight,” said head coach Katie Dougherty. “Both teams had a very long day with rain delays and the tournament being moved indoors.”
The Hawkeyes owned a 1-0 edge over the Golden Gophers after winning in doubles, 2-1. Molnar teamed with freshman Katie Zordani for the first time during dual play at the top spot. Molnar and Zordani downed No. 52 Natalia Pintusava and Magdalena Wiecha, 8-4. It marked the first time this season that a Hawkeye doubles duo beat a nationally ranked tandem. Freshmen Morven McCulloch and Ellen Silver also paired for the first time in dual play. McCulloch and Silver won an 8-5 decision over Tereza Brichacova and Yuliana Umanets at the No. 3 position.
Molnar pushed the Iowa lead to 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-0 victory against Natalia Pintusava at the No. 1 spot. Molnar ends the dual season with a 16-6 record. Molnar joined Milica Veselnovic (113 career wins) and Laura Dvorak (102 wins) in the 100 career win club. The Guelph, Ontario, native was ranked 69th in the most recent ITA singles poll. Molnar was a unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection by the conference Thrursday for the fourth time in her career.
Minnesota won the next four matches to clinch the victory, but the Hawkeyes didn’t go down without a fight. McCulloch and Zordani both fell in three sets at the No. 3 and 4 positions, respectively. Fellow freshman Shelby Talcott was tied at the No. 2 spot with Doron Muravnik, 4-4, in the third set when play ended.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way my team competed today, especially Zordani,” said Dougherty. “She’s been battling injuries the past couple weeks and it was a very gutsy performance from her tonight.”
Iowa fell to Minnesota, 6-1, when the two teams met in the regular season finale on April 22.
“We saw a lot of improvement from Sunday and competed as well as we have all year,” said Dougherty. “The match came down to a couple of points and Minnesota came up with them.”
The Hawkeyes finish the season with an 8-15 dual record.
#34 Minnesota (15-8) – 4
Iowa (8-15) – 2
1. #69 Sonja Molnar (IOWA) def. Natalia Pintusava (MINN), 6-3, 6-0
2. Shelby Talcott (IOWA) vs. Doron Muravnik (MINN), 6-4, 5-7, 4-4, unfinished
3. Alexa Palen (MINN) def. Morven McCulloch (IOWA), 6-1, 5-7, 6-3
4. Tereza Brichacova (MINN) def. Katie Zordani (IOWA), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
5. Julia Courter (MINN) def. Christina Harazin (IOWA), 6-4, 6-2
6. Aria Lambert (MINN) def. Ellen Silver (IOWA), 6-2, 6-2
1. Sonja Molnar/Katie Zordani (IOWA) def. #52 Natalia Pintusava/Magdalena Wiecha (MINN), 8-4
2. Doron Muravnik/Alexa Palen (MINN) def. Shelby Talcott/Christina Harazin (IOWA), 8-4
3. Morven McCulloch/Ellen Silver (IOWA) def. Tereza Brichacova/Yuliana Umanets (MINN), 8-5