Three matches on tap for Iowa tennis teams this weekend

Iowa men’s and women’s tennis will both compete this weekend.


Casey Stone

Iowa’s Alexa Noel serves the ball during the Iowa Women’s Tennis match against Purdue on Feb. 28, 2021 at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex. Iowa defeated Purdue 6-1.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

Wednesday was a big day for the Iowa tennis teams, as they both made some major jumps in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s rankings.

Freshman Alexa Noel moved from No. 98 in the preseason rankings up to No. 24. The Summit, New Jersey, native is 18-0 this year and the reigning Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Week.

Senior Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell also cracked the ITA’s top 100, checking in at No. 76 — the highest ranking of her career. Van Heuvelen Treadwell has only lost two matches this season.

The No. 37 Hawkeye women do, however, have a tough test ahead of them this weekend. The Hawkeyes will face No. 28 Nebraska in their last home match of the 2020-21 season.

Iowa has four seniors in van Heuvelen Treadwell, Danielle Bauers, Danielle Burich, and Ashleigh Jacobs, who will be recognized for senior day Sunday.

“[Nebraska is] a great team, having a terrific season,” head coach Sasha Schmid said. “We’re looking forward to having them here, looking forward to our final home match of the year and our senior day, so there is a lot of good stuff to look forward to on Sunday.”

Nebraska’s Kristina Novak is No. 88 in the ITA rankings and is 11-4 this season. She will likely face Noel in the match’s marquee matchup.

The Hawkeyes grabbed their first win over a ranked opponent in 2020-21 last weekend against Wisconsin, but they are still looking for a victory against a team that sits above them in the rankings.

“I think it’s always a great thing to be able to play a ranked team,” junior Samantha Mannix said. “We are feeling pretty confident, but we know it’s going to be a tough match at the same time.”

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Unlike the Hawkeye women, Iowa men’s tennis has not had the NCAA Tournament-worthy season it set out for when it returned to the court in January.

The Hawkeye men are currently 4-7 and have lost their last four matches.

Senior Kareem Allaf, who was ranked 39th in the ITA’s preseason poll, had dropped out of the ITA ranked. He’s lost four of his last six matches.

Despite all that, Allaf is still just one win shy of the Iowa men’s tennis record for combined singles and doubles wins.

All season long, Iowa men’s tennis didn’t appear to be greatly impacted by the cancellation of its 2020 season and the discontinuation of its program at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

The Hawkeyes’ armor, however, may officially be cracking, as they lost to a 3-6 Michigan State team at home on March 21.

The team as a whole has fallen out of the ITA top 50 as well.

“At this point we are just trying to keep these guys together and hopefully we will have as many guys finish out the year as possible,” head coach Ross Wilson said. “Then we will all be finished with Iowa and the tennis program, but we are just trying to win matches.”

The Oliver Okonkwo-Will Davies doubles duo has been the Hawkeyes’ lone bright spot over the last few weeks. The pairing currently ranks sixth in the nation after a 7-2 start to the season — good for a program-best.

This weekend, the Hawkeye men will hit the road Friday to take on a struggling 3-6 Penn State team that has lost three of its last four matches.

From there the Hawkeyes will travel to Wilson’s alma mater to take on No. 16 Ohio State on Sunday.