Lineup analysis: Iowa women’s tennis

The Hawkeyes set a program record with 12 wins in the 2020-21 season.


Brianna Brown

UI’s Samantha Mannix cheers after defeating the Nebraska Huskers 4-2 at the women’s tennis meet on Sunday, March 28, 2021. The meet was the labeled as “senior day,” which was also the 2021 home finale meet.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s tennis team had a historic 2021 campaign, headlined by a program record of 12 conference wins.

Led by the program’s first All-American, freshman Alexa Noel, and fifth-year senior Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell, the Hawkeyes managed a 12-6 record throughout the 2020-21 regular season and a No. 4 seed in the 2021 Big Ten tournament.

Iowa’s 2020-21 play earned them a spot in the 2022 Intercollegiate Tennis Association kickoff weekend, seeded No. 25 overall. The Hawkeyes are a No. 2 seed in their region at the University of Georgia site and will take on No. 26-overall Mississippi State on Jan. 28, 2022.

Hawkeye head coach Sasha Schmid’s squad will lose four seniors, including van Heuvelen Treadwell, who is the program’s second-winningest player for combined singles and doubles matches.

The Seaford, East Sussex, England, native became the first player in conference history to claim five first-team All-Big Ten honors after finishing the season with a 19-4 record. Van Heuvelen Treadwell also received the ITA’s Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award in the Central Region in 2020-21.

The Hawkeyes will also be tasked with finding a replacement at No. 3 doubles for graduating senior Danielle Bauers.

Bauers played every match at the No. 3 double spot in the 2020-21 season and finished with a Big Ten record of 7-6.

But Noel, the Hawkeyes’ 2021 Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Year, will be returning for her sophomore season.

Noel’s future as a Hawkeye was uncertain with a professional career on the horizon, but the Summit, New Jersey native has elected to continue her Hawkeye career for the 2021-22 season, according to a June 16 Iowa Athletics release.

Noel’s doubles partner, Samantha Mannix, will have the task of filling in for van Heuvelen Treadwell at the No. 2 spot in the singles lineup.

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Mannix stumbled midway through her 2020-21 campaign, with five losses in a seven-match stretch. But she regained her footing after the midseason struggles, and finished the season winning eight of her final nine matches.

The No. 2 spot in the lineup is not new to the rising senior Mannix. Prior to the 2021 season, Mannix had played all but three matches at the top two spots in the lineup with a .42 winning percentage.

The No. 3, 4, and 5 spots will be up for grabs for seniors Samantha Gillas and Michelle Bacalla and sophomore Vipasha Mehra.

After excelling in the shortened 2019-20 season with a 6-3 record, Bacalla struggled in 2020-21. The 5-foot-4 junior managed only four wins and lost 11 matches in straight sets.

Gillas filled in for Bacalla in the middle of the lineup for her first season as a Hawkeye. The 2020-21 junior transfer from Virginia Tech won five of her last seven matches and finished with a 9-6 record.

With no fall season to adjust to the college game, Mehra struggled during her freshman campaign. The Prune, India, native started the season 1-11 and finished with a 4-13 record.

But though the end of the season, Mehra showed some improvement, winning three of her final six matches.

With junior Erika Dodridge returning from injury and two recruits joining the Hawkeyes in 2021-22, Schmid will have options to find the final piece for the bottom of the lineup.