Hawkeyes Win 5th Straight, Top Penn State 5-2

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s tennis team improved to 6-1 in the Big Ten this season with a 5-2 win against Penn State on Friday at the Hawkeye Recreation and Tennis Complex. The win was Iowa’s fifth in a row and its first against the Nittany Lions since 2017.

The Hawkeyes started out the match capturing the doubles point. Elise van Heuvelen and Samantha Gillas earned a 6-3 win over Penn State’s Olivia Rohrbacher and Samantha Smith at the No. 2 spot. The win puts the duo at 10-1 as a doubles pair this season.

Vipasha Mehra and Danielle Bauers clinched the doubles point with at 6-4 win at the No. 3 spot. The duo has won three straight at No. 3 doubles.

“I have talked about how important the doubles point is,” said Iowa coach Sasha Schmid.” “Having an urgency on all three doubles courts really starts us off on a good note.”

Penn State opened singles with the first win at the No. 5 spot with Alexandra Nielson defeating Vipasha Mehra, 6-1, 6-2. The Hawkeyes then went on a three-match win streak to clinch the fourth and winning point. Junior Samantha Mannix defeated Frederikke Svarre, 6-3, 6-3, at the No. 3 spot, and van Heuvelen ended her opponent’s five-match win streak beating Sofiya Chekhlystova, 6-2, 6-2, at the No. 2 spot.

“I just go out there and play my own game,” said van Heuvelen. “I stuck to the game plan and stayed confident throughout the match to get the job done. I have had a lot of experience with this being my fifth year, and it helps to have a lot of experience under my belt.”

Freshman Alexa Noel clenched the match win with a straight-set win over Gabby O’Gorman, 6-2, 6-1, at the No. 1 spot. Noel improved to 13-0 on the season. Penn State got one more win at the No. 4 spot with Karly Friedman defeating Samantha Gillas, 6-4, 6-4. Michelle Bacalla won in a nail bitter against Samantha Smith at the No. 6 spot. The match went into a tie-breaker with Bacalla coming out on top, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

“After the grind today, I feel like I am starting to pick up my speed and my game,” said Bacalla. “After such a difficult last semester, this is where I’m going, and I am excited for what’s to come. I am just really happy with the progress I have made now and looking forward for the next match.”


“I am trying to balance pushing them and evaluating them and not just being satisfied in wins. I am seeing really good progress, which is exciting. We are excited for a battle against Ohio State. We have tons of respect; it is so great to have a match like that to look forward too.”


The Hawkeyes host No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday, March 5 at 11 a.m. (CT) at the Hawkeye Recreation and Tennis Complex.

Iowa 5, Penn State 2
March 5, 2021 | 3 p.m. | Iowa City, Iowa | Hawkeye Recreation Tennis Complex


  1. #97 Alexa Noel (IA) def. Gabby O’Gorman (PS): 6-2, 6-1
  2. Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell (IA) def. Sofiya Chekhlystova (PS): 6-2, 6-2
  3. Samantha Mannix (IA) def. Frederikke Svarre (PS): 6-3, 6-3
  4. Karly Friedman (PS) def. Samantha Gillas (IA): 6-4, 6-4
  5. Alexandra Nielson (PS) def. Vipasha Mehra (IA): 6-1, 6-2
  6. Michelle Bacalla (IA) def. Samantha Smith (PS): 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)


  1. Noel/Mannix (IA) vs. O’Gorman/Friedland (PS): unfinished
  2. Van Heuvelen /Gillas (IA) def. Rohrbacher/Smith (PS): 6-3
  3. Bauers/Mehra (IA) def. Chekhlystova/ Nielson (PS): 6-4

Order of Finish: Doubles: (2,3); Singles: (5,3,2,1,4,6)