Iowa tennis notebook | Hawkeyes finish San Diego Intercollegiate Championship

Four Iowa players finished a combined 9-6 in singles and doubles play.


Isabella Cervantes

Iowa’s Marisa Schmidt eyes the ball before she hits a shot during a women’s tennis match between Iowa and Michigan State at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 4- 3.

Matt McGowan, Sports Reporter

Four members of the Iowa women’s tennis team finished 9-6 overall in singles and doubles play at the Intercollegiate Championship in San Diego, California, from Sept. 29-Oct. 2. 

The group of fifth-year senior Samantha Mannix, junior Vipasha Mehra, sophomore Marisa Schmidt, and freshman Daianne Hayashida finished 4-4 in singles and 5-2 in doubles. While no one advanced past the round of 16 in singles, the pair of Hayashida and Mehra finished runner-up in doubles. 

Mehra and Hayashida had not previously played together in doubles, but their trip to the finals came as no surprise to head coach Sasha Schmid. She said success in doubles is reflective of the work that the Hawkeyes have put in toward doubles, specifically staying close to the net and getting good reads on the ball. 

“It’s payoff from a year working on court positioning, so that’s really helped Marisa and Vipasha,” Schmid said. “Sam was pretty experienced in doubles, so she brings a lot of leadership there. Then Daianne is coming in as a freshman with really strong control in doubles, and I think that has been a really fantastic addition.” 

The Hawkeyes played some practice matches against other opponents after they were eliminated from singles tournament play. Schmid said she was proud of how the Hawkeyes transferred what they learned from practice into both bracket play and matches. 

“High level points, keeping the ball in play for a long period of time and being able to do that under pressure, making good shot selection decisions, staying disciplined, holding your position in doubles and being aggressive when we’re under pressure,” Schmid told The Daily Iowan. “I really think they just all committed to that, and there were some high-quality opponents there too, so it was a really good indicator.” 

Some of those high-quality opponents included five-star recruit Tanvi Narendran of Arizona. Narendran was the No. 42 player in the 2021 recruiting class, as well as the No. 2 player in Arizona. Yet, Hayashida took her down in straight sets during her first match of the tournament, coming back from a 5-4 deficit to win the second set. 

Schmid said it is both a physical and mental challenge to defeat such strong opposition. 

“You’ve got to dig in for ‘one more ball, one more quality ball back,’” Schmid said. “Believe that you can do it and get your feet and your body organized enough to stay balanced.” 

After beating Narendran, Hayashida also defeated Rozalia Gruszczynska of Kansas State. She said even though she lost her third match the next day against San Diego’s Kailey Evans in three sets, she was still satisfied with her performance. 

“I played a good player, and I played well, so that’s fine,” Hayashida said. “If I lose but I play badly, then it’s different.” 

But Hayashida and Schmidt both said they still have improvement to do. 

While Schmidt said she improved on her serve, she still needs to work on her footwork — something she discovered playing against Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer of UCLA, the No. 2 recruit in California last year. 

“She was super consistent, she didn’t really miss a lot of balls, which made it difficult for me,” Schmidt said. “She had good quality strokes, she changed directions a lot, so I didn’t really move to the balls, which made a difference.” 

As for Hayashida, her area of focus is always winning the first point of the set. She wants to make better first serves rather than letting her opponent have “any free points.” 

“I was missing a lot of first serves,” she said. “When I missed the first serve, the second one was softer, so the other girl is going to be more aggressive.”

Ultimately, Schmid is encouraged by the Hawkeyes’ progress so far this fall season. She said her team will have the chance to play against higher-quality opponents in later tournaments but maintained the importance of taking one step at a time.

“It’s like a ladder. You’ve got to go one rung at a time. You want to jump five, but you really got to go one at a time,” Schmid said. “We’re going in the right direction and that makes me really proud of them.” 

Up next for the Hawkeyes is the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Central Regional Tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma from Oct. 13-17.