Hawkeye tennis men and women compete at same time for first time in fall

The women host the ITAs, while the men travel to Champaign.


Margaret Kispert

Iowa head coach Sasha Schmid watches a match during the Iowa-Creighton match at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Jays, 7-0.

Cody Smith, Sports Reporter

Both Hawkeye tennis teams will compete at the same time this weekend for the first time this fall season.

The men will be headed to Champaign, Illinois, for the fourth tournament of the fall season, where they are schedule to play in the Champaign Challenger from Saturday through Oct. 14.

The women’s team, on the other hand, will host the Central Regional Championships at the Hawkeye Tennis Complex  for the first time in Hawkeye tennis history. The tourney will run from today through Oct. 16.

“I’m thrilled to host this tournament,” Iowa women’s head coach Sasha Schmid said. “I’ve been in the Central Region for eight years now and have had the chance to coach and visit many other college campuses in this region. At Iowa, we have a premier tennis facility that I’m excited to show off.”

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This weekend will be the first action for the women’s team since April 22 against Wisconsin, when it concluded its 2018 spring season and lost a good chunk of senior leadership.

Going into its first tournament, Iowa will use it as an icebreaker to get some of the players acclimated to the college-tennis atmosphere.

Schmid plans to play seven Hawkeyes in the singles and doubles, including five newcomers. Freshmen Michelle Bacalla, Sophie Clark, Samantha Mannix, and sophomore transfer Ashleigh Jacobs are expected to make their Iowa débuts. Joining them will be sophomores Danielle Bauers and Danielle Burich, and senior Adorabol Huckleby.

“It’s been quite a few weeks now practicing against my new teammates,” Jacobs said. “I think outside competition will give us a chance to see where we are at, so I’m really excited to see other people on the court.”

Taking in a bunch of new teammates this season, Iowa women’s tennis has been in an adjustment period.

“Practice has been going well, considering the number of new teammates we have this year,” said Huckleby, the lone senior on Iowa’s roster. “Everyone is getting used to playing with each other and overall learning more about each other.”

The five-day tournament is expected to have 26 visiting schools and more than 160 student-athletes from the Central Region, making it one of the largest regional tournaments in the history of the event.

On the men’s side of the court, the squad will travel to Illinois to compete in the Champaign Challenger, a single-elimination singles tournament. Being one of the smaller tournaments of the fall, the team has decided to only take freshman Nikita Snezhko in order for him to gain more experience by playing matches.

“This is Nikita’s first year, and some of the other experienced guys did a little bit of different work over the summer,” assistant coach Joey Manilla said. “So we’ve had guys go to Milwaukee, All-Americans, etc. So this will be nice little tournament to send Nikita to.”

This will mark the second tournament of Snezhko’s Iowa career. Last week, he shone in his first tournament,  the Bobby Bayllis Invitational. He picked up three wins in four matches in singles play and split four matches in doubles play.

Transitioning from the junior level to the college level can be difficult. That’s the struggle both Snezhko and his coaching staff will have to help him work on by getting him to play in as many tournaments as possible.

Even though he only has a couple of matches under his belt, Snezhko knows he has a lot of things to improve upon.

“Going into my second career tournament, I need to do a better job of being more disciplined on the court,” Snezhko said. “I got to always keep my head up and stay mentally tough at all times.”