Iowa women’s tennis wraps up preseason play

The Hawkeyes traveled to Madison for the Wisconsin Invitational where they faced Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Samantha Mannix hits a forehand during a women’s tennis match between Iowa and Colorado at the HTRC on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

Freshman Alexa Noel has started 2020-21 hot for the Hawkeye women’s tennis team.

The 97th-ranked singles player in the country wrapped up a perfect preseason last weekend at the Wisconsin Invitational.

Against Big Ten foes from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska, Noel swept the competition.

Opening her weekend on Friday, Noel dropped just one game in her win over Minnesota’s Ekin Ercetin. She followed that performance with two straight-set victories — one of which came against Nebraska’s Kristina Novak.

Noel wasn’t the only Hawkeye to find success in singles play over the weekend.

Junior Michelle Bacalla and senior Ashleigh Jacobs got their first wins of the 2021 season in singles play on Friday against Minnesota and Nebraska. 

Fifth-year senior Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell and junior Samantha Gillas also bolstered their numbers in the win column, scraping by their opponents in three sets each. Van Heuvelen Treadwell bested Minnesota’s Rachel Hanford, 6-7, 6-1, and 6-4, while Gillas came back from a one-set deficit to win 3-6, 6-4, and 6-3.

“We are building momentum and making positive progress on the court,” head coach Sasha Schmid said in a release. “We got to keep that up … as we move closer to our Big Ten opener.”

The Hawkeyes were one match away from a sweep in doubles play on Friday as Noel and junior Samantha Mannix continued their stretch of dominance as a duo, besting Wisconsin’s top pair, 7-6.

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Van Heuvelen Treadwell and Gillas won their doubles match, 7-5, and senior Danielle Bauers and Jacobs beat their opponents from Nebraska, 6-3. 

Bacalla and senior Danielle Burich dropped a close one, 7-5.

Iowa struggled in doubles on the second day of the Wisconsin Invitational as van Heuvelen Treadwell and Gillas were the only pair that could grab a win, 6-3. 

Noel and Mannix’s four-match winning streak was snapped as they lost, 6-3, to Minnesota’s top doubles pair. 

Schmid moved the Jacobs-Bauers pair up to the third spot in her lineup on Saturday, but the duo dropped its match, 7-5, and the Bacalla-Burich tandem still lost to Nebraska’s Jessica Aragon and Maja Makoric, 6-4, despite moving to the No. 4 spot in Schmid’s lineup. 

“We were disappointed on a few courts in doubles and the sting of a few losses may actually be good for us and give us motivation to tighten things up,” Schmid said. “It was a hard-fought singles day. I was excited that we continued to compete.” 

Iowa faced Wisconsin in singles on Super Bowl Sunday and won three matches. 

Bacalla got back in the win column with a hard-fought, three-set win over Wisconsin’s Anna Makarova, 7-6, 5-7, 6-2, and Gillas finished her strong weekend run beating Jordana Ossa, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Mannix and Noel were the only Hawkeye doubles pair to get a win against Nebraska on Sunday, as they beat Novak and Hayley Haakenstad, 6-3. 

Burich and Gillas could only win one game in their match and Bacalla and Jacobs lost, 6-4.

“We got a lot out of the last couple weekends,” Schmid said. “We gained confidence and experience and are looking forward to Big Ten play.”

The Hawkeyes will open up the regular season on Friday at 3 p.m. at home against Illinois.