An Ace for Iowa Tennis

By Ben Frotscher
Daianne Hayashida is making an instant impact on the Hawkeye tennis program.
Daianne Hayashida PHOTO: ALYSSA SKALA/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Iowa's Daianne Hayashida and Barbara Pokorna hug after winning their spring home match against Illinois at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center.

When Daianne Hayashida was being recruited to play U.S. collegiate tennis, the South American teenager had narrowed her focus to three schools. There was just one problem.

“My visa had expired,” says Hayashida, who calls Lima, Peru, home. “I couldn’t visit any of the schools I was interested in.”

Iowa sent then-assistant coach Daniel Leitner to Peru to visit Hayashida and her family. It was a big selling point for the aspiring tennis player. “Even though I was injured, he still came to Lima, visited my family, and got to know me,” she says. “That was really cool.”

Site unseen, Hayashida chose Iowa—and now she’s a rising star for Iowa tennis and head coach Sasha Boros Schmid (96BA, 99JD). After going 10-3 in singles and winning eight doubles matches during her freshman year, she began the fall season with a win at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-American Championships—which pits the country’s best student-athletes against each other.

Now, this spring, she’s the No. 1 singles player for the Hawkeyes and holding her own against top competition. Also, for the first time in her career, Hayashida entered the ITA Division I singles rankings earlier this year.

“Daianne has demonstrated that she can win at an elite level here at Iowa,” says Schmid. “She’s an experienced player and is now proving that she is a wonderful teammate. She helps her fellow Hawkeyes compete at a high level.”

Daianne Hayashida PHOTO: STEPHEN MALLY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Hayashida celebrates during a doubles match earlier this year at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

A Love for Tennis From an Early Age

Growing up in Peru, Hayashida was active in sports, including swimming, tennis, and track and field. It didn’t take long for her to realize that she had a favorite.

“When I was little, I played a lot of tennis with my dad; I really enjoyed that,” says Hayashida. “I ended up playing tennis only from age 8 on.”

She blossomed into a tremendous talent. Hayashida was a South American champion at 12 years old and claimed the championship again at age 14. She also traveled the globe to compete against high quality competition—winning the gold medal in doubles and earned bronze in singles at the 2021 Pan American Games.

While she could have turned pro, Hayashida also wanted to get an education.

“Coming to the U.S. was a great opportunity for me to get my degree and play at a high level of tennis,” says Hayashida, who is a psychology and sports and recreation management double major. “It’s been great at Iowa. I love the small college town atmosphere here.”

While transitioning from clay courts to hard courts has been an adjustment, it’s not the only change that Hayashida had had to maneuver as a Hawkeye.

“Tennis is an individual sport, but in college, I’ve learned to play as part of a team,” she says. “You have six girls on the court at the same time. I’ve gotten used to celebrating more—yelling more—on the court, and it’s really helped my game. I’ve learned that here.”

It shows that, for Hayashida and her team, Hawkeyes are stronger together.

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