Iowa women’s tennis defeats Nebraska, moves above .500 in conference play 

Fifth-year senior Samantha Mannix’s singles win clinched the comeback victory for the Hawkeyes 


Cody Blissett

Iowa’s Samantha Mannix celebrates during a women’s tennis meet at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreational Comple on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 4,1.

Matt McGowan, Sports Reporter

Before play began in the Iowa women’s tennis team’s 4-1 victory against Nebraska, Hawkeye fifth-year senior Samantha Mannix was already put in the spotlight. When the teams lined up to face the flag for the National Anthem, no music played. 

In the silence, Mannix’s teammates, as well as Iowa head coach Sasha Schmid, told her to start singing. Yet Mannix, who participated in high school choir, refused their pleas. Instead, the Elkhorn, Nebraska, native saved her energy for the clutch.

After Nebraska took two of three doubles matches for an early 1-0 lead, Iowa found itself in the same hole as its last match against Michigan State, needing four singles wins to come out on top. 

And just like they did against the Spartans, the Hawkeyes quickly retook the lead with three singles wins, all in straight sets. 

Requiring just one more victory to take the match, Mannix delivered.  

After dropping her first set to Cornhusker sophomore Ana Carmen Zamburek, 6-2, Mannix evened the score with a dominating 6-1 win. Then, tied at 40-all in the ninth game of the third set, Zamburek’s return couldn’t clear the net, giving Mannix the victory and clinching the win for the Hawkeyes. 

“[Over] five years I’ve been in that position a few different times,” Mannix said. “And I sometimes look up at the scoreboard [so] I know what’s going on, but [assistant coach Elise Van Heuvelen Treadwell] was saying, ‘Try to stay in the bubble. Try to stay on your own court and focus on your own game.’”

The only doubles win for the Hawkeyes was from the No. 3 combination of sophomore Barbora Pokorna and freshman Pia Kranholdt. Prior to the 6-4 victory on Saturday, the duo had been winless this season.

“I think we still have to work a little bit on our volleys and our movement at the net, but overall I think we made a lot of progress,” Pokorna said. “I feel like we’re more comfortable playing together and we know what to expect from each other, and that helps, too.” 

Pokorna, Kranholdt, and Iowa junior Vipasha Mehra, each won their respective singles matches in straight sets, never allowing their Cornhusker counterparts to win more than three games in any set. 

“I was happy with the way everybody really fought hard and we were able to get four points,” Schmid said. “I think the straight-set victories were important to be able to control momentum once singles started.”

Pokorna surrendered the fewest games of any Hawkeye, winning, 6-1, 6-1. She attributed such dominance to honing in on the advantages of being a left-handed player. 

“I’ve been working on just being able to hit the ball deep, so to make it uncomfortable for my opponents,” Pokorna said. “So just, like, getting to the ball early with my feet, then accelerating through the ball, and hitting deep. Just sticking to my game, which, I’m a lefty, so deep, higher, forehands are really effective.”

Up next for the Hawkeyes on their four-match home stretch is a matchup against conference foe Purdue on March 31 at 1:00 p.m. The Boilermakers are 11-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play heading into their March 26 home meeting against Illinois, while the Hawkeyes stand at 7-6 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten 

Facebook Comments