Schmid, Hawkeyes aiming for NCAA Tournament berth in 2019-20

Iowa women’s tennis head coach Sasha Schmid is heading into her fourth season as head coach of the Hawkeyes, and she’s ready for her team to make a prominent return to the NCAA Tournament.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa head coach Sasha Schmid (right) talks with Danielle Burich during a women's tennis match between Iowa and Nebraska at the HTRC on Saturday, April 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes, celebrating senior day, fell to the Cornhuskers, 4-2.

Austin Hanson, Sports Reporter

Oftentimes, shouldering the weight of expectations is difficult. For head coach Sasha Schmid and the Hawkeyes, it is no different.

“Last year was probably the best we’ve had as program since 2010,” Schmid said.

Iowa finished 65th overall in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association standings last season and posted an overall record of 13-12. This feat is quite impressive considering the inexperience of last year’s Hawkeyes. In 2018-19, four out of nine players on Schmid’s squad were freshmen, a year in which the Hawkeyes posted an overall record of 34-38 in singles matches.

After a season of learning, Schmid’s young Hawkeyes appear ready to turn a corner in 2019-20. 

“We had a good year. We built a strong foundation. I have good high expectations, and everybody is really on the same page and motivated,” Schmid said.

Iowa’s young players will also get leadership boost from senior Elise Van Heuvelen Treadwell. Currently, Van Heuvelen Treadwell is 29-24 in career singles matches. 

“Elise is really just a phenomenal asset for our program. She’s a wonderful young lady and a great athlete. She’s not content to be a four-time all-Big Ten selection; she really wants to step up on the national stage,” Schmid said.

The goal for Iowa tennis this season is to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Schmid’s overarching goal for the program is to get into the tournament annually. The last time the Hawkeyes made the NCAA Tournament was 2011.

According to Schmid, Iowa will have to climb up 20 spots from where they finished in 2018-19 in order to make this year’s NCAA tournament. Schmid and the Hawkeyes believe they have what it takes to make the jump in 2019-20.

RELATED: By the Numbers: Iowa women’s tennis poised to surprise this season.

“We’ve really been focusing on three areas as a team. One is being completely in control of our fitness. The second thing we want to do is improve our consistency. The third thing we’re really focusing on is maintaining a good balance of emotional stability and control. I think focusing on those three main areas will help us emerge from the pack in the Big Ten, as well as in the national rankings,” Schmid said.

Schmid is entering her fourth season as head coach of the Iowa women’s tennis program. Her overall record as head coach of the Hawkeyes is 39-35. Before becoming Iowa’s head coach, Schmid was head coach of the Missouri Tigers from 2012 to 2016.

The weight of expectation looms heavily over the Hawkeyes in 2019-20. However, Schmid and her team are leaning into the expectations. The Hawkeyes are hungry for whatever the year may bring.

Iowa will have a chance to set a strong precedent for 2019-20 starting on Sept. 19. 

Over the weekend, the Hawkeyes will compete in the Gopher Invitational in Minneapolis. The Gopher Invitational is the first step the Hawkeyes will take as they prepare to make a strong push for the NCAA Tournament this season.

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