Third coach among peers


Pete Sampras was in his prime while Patrick Dwyer was hitting tennis balls in his hometown of Franksville, Wis. Dwyer watched as Sampras executed his flawless volleying skills that won him Grand Slam after Grand Slam.

It’s befitting that the Iowa junior’s game resembles the tennis legend.

He is quick like Sampras, the court is his playground.

“As an athlete, he is one of the fastest guys on the team,” Iowa assistant coach Steve Nash said. “He is strong and has become stronger.”

Although Dwyer’s immense talent is visible on the court, he is still waiting for the opportunity play for the Hawkeyes this year.

While he waits — he’ll coach.

Rules designate teams to have three coaches — a head coach, an assistant coach, and a volunteer coach. Since the Feb. 8 match against Denver, Iowa’s volunteer coach has been the team’s go-to-guy — Dwyer.

“He is a junior now and has seen a lot here,” Nash said. “He knows how this game is supposed to be played, so we feel pretty confident with him on the court helping guys out because he is going to tell them the right things to do.”

Iowa head coach Steve Houghton knows that the coaching position isn’t the ideal situation for Dwyer.

“This year, he is basically our No. 7 man at the moment,” he said. “I think, to his credit, that it’s a very hard situation where you kind of had a role, and it’s been diminished a little bit. But to his credit, he has a good attitude about it, keeps working hard in practice, and along with it, he has done the coaching.”

Tennis has been a part of Dwyer’s makeup since he picked up a racket as a kid. Growing up, he was lucky to have his own Sampras at home to study — his father, who played tennis at Western Michigan from 1974-78. The long history tennis has played in Dwyer’s 20 years made the transition from playing to coaching a hard one.

“[I’m] just trying to help out whenever possible, doing what I can,” he said. “Obviously, you’d prefer being out there and winning the match for your team, but if that’s not what I am being called to do, then I am going to do everything I can — whether it’s to be loud — to try to help our guys.”

Dwyer’s roommate, junior Tommy McGeorge, sees the effect of his presence on the court.

“Patrick is one of my best friends,” McGeorge said. “He is a great teammate for everybody, always vocal. He knows a lot about tennis, which is why I think Coach has him on the court helping us out in matches.

“He does everything he can, on and off the court, to make us better.”

Dwyer has always been right on the cusp of breaking into the lineup. Nash says his opportunity will come soon enough.

“The only thing he has to do is put more balls in play,” Nash said. “He’s got every shot we could ask for, it’s just under pressure, he needs to learn to relax and get balls in play. He tends to get a little tight, almost to amped up at points and miss balls. So that’s what we are trying to do with him, to calm him down when the pressure is on.”

Houghton said he knows ever fiber in the 6-0 Dwyer wants a shot to play. Teammates can see the fight in Dwyer as well.

“He’ll get his shot one of these days,” McGeorge said. “He’s doing all the right things.”

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