Women’s tennis starts fall season at Gopher Invitational

Iowa tennis kicks off the fall season at the Gopher Invitational, the first time Iowa has competed in the tournament since 2016.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Elise Van Heuvelen Treadwell hits a forehand during a women's tennis match between Iowa and Maryland at the HTRC on Sunday, April 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 6-1.

Austin Hanson, Sports Reporter

The wait for tennis is finally over in Iowa City; Hawkeye tennis is officially back. The Iowa women’s tennis team will make its 2019-20 début today in Minneapolis at the Gopher Invitational.

Minnesota will host its tournament for the ninth time, and Iowa will compete in the event for the first time since 2016. None of the Hawkeyes heading to Minnesota this weekend has played in past Gopher Invitationals.

While not traveling to Minneapolis this weekend, Elise Van Heuvelen Treadwell is the only Hawkeye currently on the roster that has competed in the Gopher event, and her last appearance in the tournament proved to be quite successful. As a freshman, Van Heuvelen Treadwell won her flight in the 2016.

Samantha Mannix won’t head to the Gopher Invitational, either. Both Van Heuvelen Treadwell and Mannix are off to compete at an Intercollegiate Tennis Association event as individuals.

Don’t expect the Gopher Invitational to serve as a tune-up tournament for the inexperienced Hawkeyes, because the event is highly competitive. Familiar Hawkeye foes compete in the tournament on a yearly basis. Last season, Minnesota, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Nebraska all took the court in Minneapolis.

With the stiff competition ahead, the event will set the tone for the Hawkeyes this season.

“It’s a great right-off-the-bat tournament,” head coach Sasha Schmid said. “As long as we can put a lot of balls in play and really be consistent, that’s going to be a good base for us. I do want them competing hard and showing a lot of maturity and emotional stability as we get back out there and learn how to navigate the emotions of a match.”

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

History is on Schmid’s side when it comes to the tournament. The Hawkeyes were rather successful in their last Gopher outing. After looking strong the first three days of the tournament, Iowa went undefeated on Day 4 of the 2016 tournament.

In 2016, the Gopher set the precedent for the rest of the season, and Iowa finished 16-9 overall. That season, the Hawkeyes posted a 10-3 home record and .640 winning percentage. Iowa also posted a 6-5 record on the road, the last time the Hawkeyes finished with a winning road record.

While 2016 was a successful season for the Hawkeyes, they did not manage to make the NCAA tournament. This year’s iteration of the Hawkeyes looks to improve upon the 2016 team’s past accomplishments. A solid Gopher Invitational performance, in addition to a strong regular season, won’t satisfy the Hawkeyes this season.

Schmid and the Hawkeyes will only be satisfied with an NCAA Tournament berth. Regular-season accolades, individual achievement, and home dominance won’t be enough for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are prepared for a make-or-break run at the NCAA, and this weekend, they will have the opportunity to begin the quest for glory.

Matches start at 9 a.m. each day of the three-day tournament, beginning with double matches and followed by singles.

 

 

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