WMU Invitational propels Hawkeyes toward ITA Regionals

Sophomores Michelle Bacalla and Cloe Ruette competed at the Western Michigan University Invitational over the weekend, and now look forward to ITA Regionals.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Michelle Bacalla hits a forehand 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

Another positive weekend has supplied Iowa women’s tennis with more bricks to help build the foundation of the team. 

Sophomores Michelle Bacalla and Cloe Ruette traveled to Michigan over the weekend to compete in the Western Michigan University Invitational. Bacalla and Ruette are only two of the young Hawkeyes that comprise the majority of Iowa’s roster.

Out of a roster of eight, four Hawkeyes are sophomores or freshman. The only senior Iowa boasts is Elise Van Heuvelen Treadwell.

“This team has grown a lot,” Bacalla said. “We know what we struggle on and know what we’re doing well on. We’re doing a lot of reflection, a lot of thinking, and building together as a team and working well with the coaches.”

Bacalla and Ruette certainly saw some things they were doing well over the weekend. The pair posted a 3-1 doubles record in their first appearance at the WMU Invite.

While the dyad did find some success in doubles, they undoubtedly found some things to improve upon in singles play. Both Ruette and Bacalla booked 1-2 records in singles play, combining for a 2-4 record overall.

“Singles was good for short stretches,” assistant coach Daniel Leitner said. “We definitely have to make some adjustments and find a way to play and compete better in close situations.”

A 5-5 record across all matches at the WMU Invite will help the Hawkeyes going forward.

During the fall, the Hawkeyes want to log as many matches as they can to prepare for the spring.

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“At this point, everybody just really wants to play,” head coach Sasha Schmid said. “We’ve been practicing a lot, but we really look forward to the opportunity to play somebody that’s not in a Hawkeye uniform.”

Playing a large quantity of fall matches will not only help lead Iowa to spring success. On Thursday, the Hawkeyes will travel to Norman, Oklahoma, for ITA Regionals. The event will be the second to last event Iowa plays before winter break. The tournament is also likely to be the highlight of Iowa’s fall campaign.

“I just want to gain more confidence and experience to get ready for regionals next week,” Ruette said. “I just want to go out there and compete and have fun on the court. I think if you play more matches, the better [your confidence] gets.”

Young players such as Ruette and Bacalla will need to step up at ITA Regionals. The event will provide the Hawkeyes with elite competition and an appropriate challenge to help finish the latter half of the fall session. The tournament should help prove that this season’s Hawkeyes are a legitimate NCAA Tournament threat.

“I think we feel confident, but we also have an appropriate level of fear that makes you want to keep improving,” Schmid said. “You can’t get too complacent at all, because there are a lot of really good teams in our wavelength of rankings that are also working hard. You have to keep those teams in the forefront of your mind and keep trying to win every day at practice and keep using these competitions as a way to test yourself.”

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