February 2019

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33 T he University of Iowa women's tennis team is off to a 4-0 start this spring season in no small part to contribution from freshman Sophie Clark. e Swindon, England, native has shown no jet lag in her play for the Hawkeyes. rough the first two weeks of the season, Clark has posted a 4-0 record at No. 4 singles and a 2-1 record with fellow freshman, Samantha Mannix, at No. 1 doubles. She has won half her singles matches in straight sets, including a marquee win against No. 102 Minying Liang of North Texas. ough her early season success is unquestioned, her path to the University of Iowa was full of them. Before arriving on campus last fall, Clark had never stepped foot on the University of Iowa campus. She had only seen the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex in pictures. Her distant, yet strong, relationship with Iowa head coach Sasha Schmid was what brought her here, sight unseen. "From multiple conversations with Sasha over my recruiting period, I gained the sense that Sasha cared about the individuals on the team. I could tell I would get along well with her and the atmosphere she has created within the program," Clark said. ough her confidence in Schmid and Iowa were high, the change in scenery is something she admits weighed heavily on her mind. "My biggest worry was the idea that I was leaving family, friends, and everything I knew," Clark said. "I was fearful of travelling so far and not making strong bonds or friendships." Clark, along with four other newcomers, was the beneficiary of a relatively limited competition schedule during the fall season. In years past, the team would compete in four or five team events during the fall season. is fall, the Hawkeyes competed in just two. at strategy seems to have paid dividends both on and off the court for Clark. "I was able to settle in quickly in a new environment and meet amazing people and build very strong relationships," she said. "I think that my tennis has improved immensely during my time at Iowa. e environment has helped me with my confidence and belief in my game." Clark and the Hawkeyes are set to begin Big Ten play Feb. 22. Led by senior Adorabol Huckleby and two-time All-Big Ten performer Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell, the team is excited to continue the fun and maintain the success they have had thus far. "Playing matches and travelling with the team is way more fun than I imagined," Clark said. "It is a great experience to seeeveryone fight as one unit and put all of our hard work during training into the matches and seeing results." e Hawkeyes (4-0) return to action at home Feb. 8 against Iowa State in the annual Iowa Corn Cy- Hawk Series. FEBRUARY SCHEDULE Feb. 8 Iowa State Feb. 9 DePaul Feb. 17 at Marquette Feb. 22 at Northwestern Feb. 24 Penn State

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