Iowa women’s tennis concludes final fall tournament

All four participating Hawkeyes collected victories at the Watanabe Classic in Las Vegas.


Casey Stone

Iowa’s Michelle Bacalla 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.

Chase Szewc, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s tennis traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, this weekend to compete in the Watanabe Classic. 

Four Hawkeyes — freshman Barbora Pokorna, seniors Michelle Bacalla and Samantha Gillas, and sophomore Vipasha Mehra — participated in several singles and doubles draw competitions at the event. 

Michelle Bacalla defeated Dixie State’s Alex Hildreth, 6-1, 6-1, in second flight singles, to advance to the tournament semifinals. But Bacalla lost in the semifinals to Texas Tech’s Tomi Man 3-6, 0-6.

Bacalla finished in third in the second flight with a victory over Grand Canyon’s Fabienne Schmidt, 6-2, 6-1, on Sunday.

In third singles flight, Gillas fell in her first match to UNLV’s Shir Azran, 1-6, 1-6. Gillas moved to the consolation matches and defeated Texas Tech’s Camryn Stepp, 6-2, 6-4. The senior finished in fifth place with a victory over Dixie State’s Rachel Mellor, 6-2, 6-2.

Mehra and Gillas combined to collect a victory in the first flight doubles. The duo was defeated in the first matchup, but took a match against Dixie State’s Mellor/Hildreth, 6-1.


The Watanabe Classic was the Hawkeyes’ final fall tournament. Iowa competed in four fall tournaments as a team this year.

Now, the Hawkeyes will prepare for their spring 2022 season. Iowa will kick off duals in January, hosting Marquette at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.


In fourth flight singles, Mehra made the deepest run of any Hawkeye in Las Vegas.

The sophomore opened Friday with a close victory over Grand Canyon’s Autumn Prudhomme, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Mehra was defeated by UNLV’s Salsa Aher in the semifinals, but advanced to the championship by default after two UNLV moved on to the finals to play one another.

Mehra fell to UNLV’s Cindy Hu, 6-3, 6-3.


After picking up two victories in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Central Regional Championships Oct. 21-23, Pokorna followed up with a solid performance in Las Vegas.

The freshman from the Czech Republic brought home a seventh-place finish, along with a singles and doubles victory.

In first flight singles, Pokorna fell to her first two opponents. But the freshman finished the weekend with a victory over Dixie State’s Ya-Chi, 6-0, 6-1.

Pokorna and Bacalla collected a victory over Grand Canyon’s Del Marco/Ramkin duo, 6-1, in second flight doubles, and followed it up with another win over Long Beach State’s Le Du and Sionei tandem, 6-2.

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