April 1, 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 — The University of Iowa women’s tennis team isn’t sitting back and waiting for a breakthrough, they’re running for it.
The Hawkeyes have dropped three consecutive Big Ten matches by identical 4-3 scores, and each time they’ve used an all-too-familiar recipe that led to similar results — split the singles, drop the doubles.
Some coaches may blow up the script and start anew, but UI head coach Katie Dougherty sees passion in the lineup and believes the Hawkeyes are playing with an attitude that can lead to immediate change and long-term success.
“The team has a good outlook,” said Dougherty. “They’re a process-oriented group. It’s hard with the results, but they know they’re getting better. They see themselves getting better. They see each other getting better.
“They’re devastated after these losses, but it’s in the right way. It’s in the ‘what can we do way.’ It’s not, ‘woe is me.'”
The Hawkeyes won eight-of nine-doubles points on their way to an 8-1 start to the season, but during a road trip to South Florida, junior Natalie Looney suffered a season-ending knee injury. Looney and junior Aimee Tarun combined for a 10-3 doubles record prior to the injury.
“Natalie was leading the way in doubles, so it’s been a huge loss,” Dougherty said. “And she’s a sparkplug out there. We’ve been consistently winning three singles matches, but we need that one extra point to put us over the hump.”
The top third of the lineup could lend the push Dougherty is looking for. Sophomores Anastacia Reimchen and Zoe Douglas play No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, and since the doubles lineup required an injury-induced makeover, Iowa’s top two players have held down the No. 1 doubles spot too, sweeping Wisconsin and Minnesota to improve to 5-0 as a doubles duo.
“Having Anastacia and Zoe stepping up is huge,” Dougherty said. “Zoe is 4-1 in the Big Ten and playing as well as we have seen her. Now she’s winning at No. 1 doubles and coming into her own.”
“I think we’re ready for a breakout,” Douglas said. “We’ve progressed so much. It’s time to change and get the results that we all deserve. We put in the work every day, and I think it’s going to pay off.”
While the top third of Iowa’s lineup is occupied by sophomores, a pair of freshmen are moving into the middle third. Kristen Thoms has been a regular at the top half of the lineup and shares the team lead with 11 wins. Adorable Huckleby recently move into the No. 4 spot with a 10-3 record.
That means Dougherty’s lineup for the stretch run is headlined by two freshmen and two sophomores.
“There’s time for things to turn around for us as long as we keep working for it,” Douglas said. “It doesn’t matter who plays where, coach knows what she is doing. She’s making great decisions for our team and I think it is going to pay off in the long run.”
“We’re young but we bring a lot of fire and energy,” Huckleby said. “I love the energy on this team, whether we’re winning or losing, no one can ever tell because we’re always focused and ready to go.
“We’re getting great experience, and putting us in three-all positions over and over again will help us tip the scale and come out on top.”