Ranked player’s strong performance not enough for Iowa women’s tennis against No. 8 Northwestern

The Hawkeyes lost, 6-1, at home in their second match of the season with Noel’s singles win providing the only point.


Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan

Iowa’s Elise Van Heuvelen Treadwell hits the ball during the Iowa women’s tennis meet v. Northwestern in the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. Northwestern defeated Iowa with a score of 6-1.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s tennis team could not pull off an upset on Sunday as it fell to Northwestern, 6-1.

Two separate matches had points awarded to the Hawkeyes for slamming rackets, and both teams had players jawing back and forth over close calls.

“For me, I don’t think any of that stuff helped us,” Iowa head coach Sasha Schmid said. “And we need to get back to just speaking with our tennis. I am all for a good competitive match and fighting for yourself, but I think we need to stay focused and get ourselves back ready to play for every point.”

Senior Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell was awarded a point when her opponent, Maria Shusharina, threw her racket down by her chair after dropping the first three games of the second set.

Hawkeye junior Michelle Bacalla was also given a key point in her first set tiebreaker after Briana Crowley slammed her racket.

Court one featured a ranked singles matchup as No. 97 Alexa Noel took on No. 57 Julie Byrne. Their match included some extracurricular activity as well with both players yelling at each other and the referee about close calls.

“It was hard [to not focus on it], honestly,” Noel said. “I definitely get pressed when things like that happen, but [program coordinator Daniel Leitner] and Sasha were next to me saying ‘focus on tennis,’ and I knew ultimately that was what I needed to do to win.”

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Northwestern had already won by the time Noel and Byrne finished their second set, so the two played a 10-point tiebreaker with all eyes in the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on them.

Noel was able to use her backhand slice well throughout the match and she finished off Byrne, 6-4, 6-7, 10-5.

“I don’t think Alexa is intimidated by anybody,” Schmid said. “And I think that’s a great quality. It is not easy to fight hard like that when the team match has been decided and you have to find your energy, but I think it is a strong statement.”

Noel and Samantha Mannix also continued their doubles success with a win over the 47th ranked doubles pair of Byrne and Hannah McColgan, 6-2.

The Hawkeyes could not grab the doubles point, though, as van Heuvelen Treadwell and Samantha Gillas lost, 6-1, and Danielle Burich and Danielle Bauers lost a tight contest, 6-4.

After a rough preseason, Bacalla looked to be turning things around with a strong performance in her unfinished match on Friday and a 5-1 lead in the first set against Breana Crowley of Northwestern.

That lead quickly disappeared as Crowley came all the way back to force a tiebreaker and win the first set. She then shut out Bacalla in the second set to win, 7-6, 6-0.

“[Crowley] just threw a lot of different shots and combinations of shot selections that she wasn’t doing in the beginning,” Bacalla said. “Even though the score doesn’t look like it, every game was really close.”

Iowa has struggled in the second half of the lineup so far this season with all of its wins coming from the top three.

Bacalla and Gillas both lost their matches in two sets, and switching Burich in for Vipasha Mehra at the No. 6 spot didn’t provide a boost as she lost, 6-2, 6-2.

“We have to be able to get more production out of those lower parts of the lineup,” Schmid said. And I think we can. It’s part of the development that we need to see over the course of the next couple of weeks.”