24 Hawkeyes to Watch: Katie Zordani

May 19, 2015

Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Monday, Aug. 4, 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 2014-15 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 — It’s not so much that Katie Zordani is hard to please, she just wanted to make the right choice when selecting a college.

The five-star women’s tennis recruit visited more than 40 colleges and universities before a friend and high school coach suggested the University of Iowa.

“I was iffy about it, but people were convincing me,” Zordani said.



The native of Lake Forest, Illinois, drove to Iowa City with her mother, Jan. The visit made an impression; before the Zordani’s returned home, Katie had her mind made up. She connected with head coach Katie Dougherty, enjoyed the friendly and helpful demeanor of the UI staff and liked Iowa being a Big Ten institution of “manageable” size.

“When we were leaving the campus I told my mom this is where I am going and committed the next day,” Zordani said.

Zordani received a bachelor’s degree May 16 in health and human physiology with a concentration on pre-medicine. She will remain at UI next year as a volunteer assistant coach with the Hawkeye women’s tennis program, a position held in 2014-15 by Zordani’s former teammate Ruth Seaborne.

Being part of the UI tennis team allowed Zordani to travel and compete across the United States — from Florida to California with a heavy dose of action in the Midwest. A staple of the Hawkeyes’ fall schedule is a trip to Oklahoma for the International Tennis Association Regional Championships.

“Going to Regionals in Oklahoma is an honor to compete with the best in the country,” Zordani said.

From 2011-15, Zordani won 60 singles and 53 doubles matches. As a junior she was 10-10 in duals with a record of 3-0 at No. 3 singles. As a senior she was 9-4 at No. 3 doubles. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes won 38 times.

Life as a student-athlete wasn’t always rosy for Zordani, who on two occasions spent five days in the hospital with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“The fact is, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Zordani said. “My coach had a positive impact in my life and coming back from and overcoming those injuries.”

Zordani has five siblings. Her brother, John, plays tennis for Wisconsin and a sister, Elizabeth, is on the tennis team at Yale. Don Zordani, Katie’s father, was a competitive speed skater. The Zordani’s are not only athletic, they are also very close. So the first few days on campus, Zordani battled through the typical bouts of homesickness; she used a map to search for classes.

“You come in as a freshman and you’re lost,” Zordani said. “You’re scared to sit in the front row.”

That was then. Zordani has grown during her time at Iowa.

“My senior year I sat in the front row of my lectures,” Zordani said. “I met my teachers, talked to them, went to office hours, and tried to build relationships with people.”

This summer Zordani will complete an internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, shadowing three doctors. Zordani will apply to graduate school once she accumulates enough clinical hours.

And the same person that was once “iffy” about attending the UI, intends to stay in the area much longer.

“I love this place,” Zordani said.