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 KEVIN QUINN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 2016-17 season was one for the record books for the University of Iowa women’s tennis team. The first season under head coach Sasha Schmid featured the second-best start in Iowa women’s tennis history (9-0), the most wins since 2010 (16), and an appearance in the Big Ten Tournament. Although the season ended with a first round loss at the conference tournament, the Hawkeyes can still keep their heads high.
“When you can look at those types of stats it’s fulfilling and I think it was a good season,” said Schmid. “I’m proud of year one. It’s a great stepping stone for us to build upon next season. The team was committed and they worked hard.”
The Hawkeyes made huge improvements from last season. Following a year where the team was unable to win a conference match, Iowa finished with five Big Ten wins, its most since 2010. The Hawkeyes were also ranked as high as 47th in the ITA National Team Rankings.
“The team bought into the culture,” said Schmid. “We held a high standard of effort and attitude daily. We used that to build belief, and you need something to build off of when we didn’t have a lot of wins, and you could see the belief from match-to-match.”
The team is looking to build off this season’s success as it moves from a younger, unexperienced group to a more veteran based team.
“Having a great season and then coming up short in the Big Ten Tournament could be what we need to stay hungry and humble,” said Schmid. “It showed us that we need to work hard over the summer and get back after it next year to move from the middle of the pack to that next tier.”
Next season, the Hawkeyes return Big Ten Freshman of the Year Elise van Heuvelen, their top singles player, and three seniors with experience playing in the top half of the lineup. Montana Crawford, Zoe Douglas, and Anastasia Reimchen combined for a 39-26 singles record in 2016-17.
“That is going to be key for us,” said Schmid. “Elise is a team player, and the three seniors are good kids and staples for this program. They were important everyday singles and doubles players for us. Being able to have them lead the group next year is going to be awesome.”
In addition to the seven returning players, Iowa is also welcoming three newcomers to the team. Yufei Long, Danielle Bauers, and Danielle Burich will join the 2017-18 roster.
“I’m excited about the addition of Yufei Long, Danielle Bauers, and Danielle Burich,” said Schmid. “With those three kids there will be a lot of healthy competition and a lot of hunger, which will help us.”
The Hawkeyes will look to continue with their new culture, focusing on fitness and confidence for next season, as well as use next year’s fall schedule to their advantage in order to make a push in Big Ten play.
“I want to get back to our core values of working hard on fitness and using conditioning as something that we can build confidence,” said Schmid. “We have a great schedule for next year with a lot of competitive matches that will be challenging for us in a good way. That will hopefully set us up to peak by the time we get to the Big Ten season.”