Opportunity Knocks as Postseason Nears

April 13, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s tennis schedule presents a pair of unique challenges this weekend, and the opportunity is not lost on the Hawkeyes.

Iowa opens competition today at Michigan State with the intention of ending a four-match skid and finding a breath of air against a conference schedule that has included seven ranked teams to date.

The Spartans are the first Big Ten foe on Iowa’s schedule not rated in the ITA national team rankings. Michigan State is 0-7 in league play, but the Spartans own a 7-4 record at home, so while the opportunity is there, it’s certainly no slam dunk.

“Every weekend we have coming up is a big opportunity, and we can’t look past anyone,” said junior Ruth Seaborne. “Especially since everyone in the Big Ten is beating everyone right now. It has been tough on us because we’ve had a couple tough losses, but right now is a chance to get those wins.”

Iowa’s next win will be its ninth, surpassing its win total from all of last year, and it could create some much needed momentum heading into Sunday’s match against No. 7 Michigan. The Wolverines are the third top 10 team Iowa will face this season. Like the previous two, the Wolverines present a lineup full of challenges, but the Hawkeyes are not without a quality win this season — a win against No. 33 Illinois under their belt — and they’re not without their own set of skill players.

Seaborne is ranked No. 98 in the ITA singles rankings with a 10-6 record at the No. 1 position. She also teams with sophomore Morven McCulloch at the Hawkeyes’ top doubles position. The duo owns a 14-4 record and is ranked No. 48 in the ITA doubles poll.

Sophomore Shelby Talcott and freshman Caitlyn Hindmarsh share the team lead with 11 singles wins — Talcott at the No. 2 position and Hindmarsh at No. 6.

Hindmarsh teams with another freshman, Annette Dohanics, at the No. 3 doubles position. The rookies opened the season with a 5-2 record, and after a brief hiatus, have started to regain their early-season stroke. They led No. 19 Purdue, 6-5, last week before play was abandoned.

“We took a couple of tough losses the last few weeks, but there is no reason we can’t bounce back,” Hindmarsh said of the entire Hawkeye lineup. “We’re a great team. Things haven’t gone our way recently, but there’s no reason we can’t turn it around.”

That relentless attitude is shared throughout the lineup.

“We had a big team meeting the other night to help each other out, get motivated and flatten out some issues we may be experiencing on the court, like losing a few matches,” said Seaborne. “We’re going to try and continue to battle as a team and use that as an advantage for us on the tennis court.”

A weekend sweep would send Iowa into the final week of the regular season with a lot of momentum against a favorable schedule. Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Hawkeyes’ final two conference opponents, have a combined 5-9 Big Ten record.

“This weekend can be a big turning point for us heading into the rest of the season,” said Dohanics. “Hopefully we can swing momentum our way.”

“In the Big Ten right now everyone is beating everyone,” added Hindmarsh. “So there’s no reason we can’t go out this weekend and beat a couple of good teams.”