Jan. 29, 2016
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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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa women’s tennis fans will see a first time for the final time at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Saturday.
Annette Dohanics, the lone senior on an Iowa roster that includes two juniors and seven underclassmen, leads the Hawkeyes into the 2016 season opener for a doubleheader against Missouri State beginning at 10 a.m. (CT).
Every season has just one opening day, and Dohanics has made a habit of turning each one into something worth celebrating.
She made her Hawkeye debut at the 2013 season opener against Iowa State, winning in straight sets at the No. 6 position, 6-1, 6-4. One year later she opened with a 6-0, 6-3 straight-set win against Nebraska-Omaha at the No. 4 spot, and last season she won 6-3, 6-2 against Northern Iowa at No. 5.
With a doubleheader looming Saturday, she could make it a perfect five-for-five on opening day.
“I’m looking forward to my final season,” Dohanics said, “and you always want to start off with a win.”
When UI head coach Katie Dougherty submits Saturday’s starting lineup, Dohanics could be penciled in as Iowa’s No. 2 singles player, which means the competition will be fiercer than it is has been in the past. She has played in 51 career dual matches and owns a very productive 28-23 overall record, but she has never played higher than the No. 3 singles position. For the majority of her career, she has plugged the middle of the lineup, owning a 9-10 record at No. 4 singles and an 11-3 career mark at No. 5.
Last season she gradually worked her way toward the top of the lineup, playing the first four matches at No. 5, the next eight at No. 4, and closing the season with seven straight appearances at No. 3.
“There is a difference between the top three, and four through six,” Dougherty said. “The type of players you see every day are different, but she is a grinder and I expect her to play well at the top.
“When she gets a better ball she hits a better ball back. She is not the type of player that creates pace by herself, but she can use yours against you.”
The scoreboard was not always favorable at the end of last season. Dohanics won just two of her final 11 singles matches after starting the season 5-2, but the experience of playing in the top half of the lineup against five ranked Big Ten teams has set her up for another run.
“Last year forced me to grow and change as a player dramatically,” said Dohanics. “I have spent a lot of time working on being more aggressive and changing my style. I’m looking forward to competing at a high position.”
No matter the lineup spot, Dougherty said Dohanics’ impact on the team, particularly the seven underclassmen, cannot be measured in one season.
“Her entire career Annette has been our clincher, and this year she has embraced the role of being a senior leader,” Dougherty said. “She understands it and does a great job day-in and day-out. Her work ethic is unmatched. I know she wants to finish strong and we are all here to back her up.”