Editor’s note: The following first appeared in the May edition of Hawk Talk Monthly.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The final record reads 13-12, but the effort on display from the 2019 women’s tennis team was far from average.
The Hawkeyes ran nine players deep this season — one senior, one junior, three sophomores, and four freshmen.
It was a young team, and that youth sometimes led to inconsistency. That showed in the box scores, with two separate winning streaks for four or more matches, and two more losing streaks just as long.
The second stretch, beginning with a nonconference loss to Notre Dame on March 12 and ending with a 5-2 loss at No. 14 Ohio State on March 24, saw the Hawkeyes even their record at 8-8. Iowa was sitting .500 overall, but things looked glimmer in the conference standings. The loss to the Buckeyes was Iowa’s fourth in four Big Ten matches.
It could have been a time for Iowa’s four freshmen and three sophomores to put a bow on the season and begin looking at next year. But that is not what happened. The Hawkeyes got hot. The lineup got shuffled. And what followed was a four-game winning streak.
“Our team grew so much this year,” said Iowa head coach Sasha Schmid. “We had a young team and they all worked hard and matured in every way this year. I’m proud of this group.”
The Hawkeyes fought for 13 wins, their second-highest total in eight years. The only team to win more in that span was Schmid’s first squad in 2017. That group won 16 matches and earned a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.
This year’s group did not reach that win total, but it did do something the 2017 team could not. For the first time in five years, the Hawkeyes won a match at the Big Ten Championships, defeating Indiana, 4-2, in the opening round.
“The opening round was a huge win for our team,” Schmid said. “I was so proud of them. It was a hard-fought back-and-forth match and our team competed hard to win.”
The fight continued in the quarterfinals, where No. 2 Wisconsin used a three-set win at the No. 4 position to eliminate Iowa, 4-3.
“They played hard and came up a bit short,” Schmid said. “It was tough, but once we all can reflect on the season, we will be proud and motivated for the future.
“We have a group of great young woman on our team and I’m excited about the future of Hawkeye tennis.”