Iowa women’s tennis finds spark, sweeps Wisconsin and Minnesota

The women’s tennis team had two outstanding performances this weekend while the men’s team struggles continue.

Brianna Brown

Ohio State doubles partners fist-bump at the Iowa women’s tennis meet v. Ohio State on Sunday, March 7, 2021. The Hawkeyes were defeated by the Ohio State Buckeye’s 2-5.

The Iowa women’s tennis team swept its matches this weekend against No. 49 Wisconsin and Minnesota, coming back to win both matches after losing the doubles point.

The Hawkeyes’ 5-2 win over the Golden Gophers Sunday was one of their best performances of the season.

Every player in the singles lineup won their match with the exception of freshman Vipasha Mehra, who could not continue the momentum from her win Friday.

“I think we really proved something to ourselves,” Iowa head women’s tennis coach Sasha Schmid said. “Being able to come back and not having to rely on [the doubles point] and being able to win matches against these good teams with the singles play.”

An Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell, 5-7, 7-6, 6-1, comeback win under the lights sealed the victory over Wisconsin in the women’s team’s first outdoor home match this season.

In her five-year career, it was the first time that van Heuvelen Treadwell was playing with the score tied at 3-3.

“When everyone’s watching at three all, it’s just all on you,” van Heuvelen Treadwell said. “And you have to get the job done. I’m just happy with the result.”

The Badgers and the Hawkeyes were tied at No. 49 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings going into the match.

The men’s tennis team is now in the middle of a four-match drought. With the losses to No. 8 Michigan and Michigan State, the program is in the middle of the longest losing streak since January 2018. The team will be discontinued at the end of the academic year.

“This isn’t the Iowa tennis program that I built,” Iowa head men’s tennis coach Ross Wilson said. “This isn’t the Iowa tennis program that our guys helped build. The things that have happened to us this past year I think have just taken our heart away, and it’s really unfortunate that that’s happened.”

After losing the doubles point to start the day on Sunday, the Hawkeyes looked like they were on the way to bouncing back in their first outdoor match of the season.

RELATED: Iowa tennis hopes to bounce back

Sophomore Oliver Okonkwo, junior Joe Tyler, and seniors Kareem Allaf and Jason Kerst all won the first set of their singles matches, and junior Will Davies came back from a first-set loss to dominate the second set of his match.

It all went south after that as Okonkwo dropped the next two sets and freshman Peter Alam quickly lost, 6-2, 6-3.

Davies is known for being able to come through with the match on the line, but he didn’t handle Nick Williams’ repeated charges to the net. His 2-6, 6-1, 4-6, loss would be the decider for Michigan State.

“Everyone doesn’t have to battle their program being cut by their administration, being finished at the end of the season, and being forced to go somewhere else,” Wilson said. “I credit our guys every day for showing up and having to play for Iowa if they want to play tennis because I think that’s really hard to do.”

Friday’s match against Michigan was the first time this season that the Hawkeyes lost after winning the doubles point.

Davies was the only Iowa player to win a singles match Friday.

No. 39 Allaf had a thrilling three-set match against No. 28 Ondrej Styler where the United Arab Emirates native came back from behind and won a tiebreaker in the second set. Styler had a little more gas in the tank for the third set, though, and he won the match, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2.

“We’ve gone through a lot of adversity whether that’s matches or obviously everything else that we’ve dealt with over the last 12-plus months,” Kerst said. “It’s not at all at a point where you’re hitting the panic button.”

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