In tennis, ‘new kid’ shows off strokes, humbleness

BY AMIE KIEHN | APRIL 09, 2009 7:30 AM

They call him the “Fed.”

Freshman Tom Mroziewicz was once affectionately called “Canada,” but since his April 5 dual match against Indiana, assistant men’s tennis coach Steve “Nasty” Nash has established the more suitable nickname for the Toronto native.

“We call him the ‘Fed,’ as in Federer,” Nash said during practice Tuesday.

Mroziewicz’s impressive Sunday début at Iowa’s No. 6 singles spot sparked the nickname; he defeated Indiana’s Stephen Vogl (7-6, 6-4).

“To put someone in a Big Ten match — in a match we really have to win, against a big team — and to come out and play, it says a lot that he’s ready to go out and be a big-time guy on the court,” Nash said.

A case of nerves was apparent in the Hawkeye during first few games against Vogl — but he settled down and used fluidity and exceptional groundstrokes to snare the victory.

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“He is definitely probably one of the most talented guys on the team, stroke wise,” freshman Will Vasos said. “He’s got perfect strokes, great timing.

“He can hit winners from anywhere on the court, so you can’t put balls short with him. His serve is definitely developing really well, and he’s got a nasty slice.”

Although Federer’s versatility on the court has propelled the Swiss tennis player to the world’s No. 2 ranking, it’s his humble admiration for others that tennis fans most frequently commend.

Mroziewicz takes after the tennis legend.

Although the freshman’s victory over Vogl was crucial in sealing the Hawkeyes’ 5-2 win on Sunday, he quickly acknowledged his contribution and then directed the praise toward his teammates.

“It’s nice to know I can help the team with a win,” he said following the match. “I think it started getting a little close at the end, so the extra point definitely helped, along with the other guys on the team.”

Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said he notices players who refrain from arrogance.

“I’ve always told guys, if they are on the outside of things and not in the lineup, to just keep doing stuff right,” Houghton said. “You never know when you’ll get your chance.”

Mroziewicz is grateful for the opportunity to play tennis at Iowa. His father, Wojetk Mroziewicz, began teaching his young son the game he loved back in his home country of Poland when he was barely 5 years old. Mroziewicz soon emerged as one of Canada’s top junior players and knew he wanted to compete in college.

“Since I was around 11, I was playing to get a scholarship to play D-1 tennis,” he said, donning his Hawkeye Tennis sweatshirt.

Iowa was not initially on Mroziewicz’s radar, but once he received a letter from Houghton, the senior in high school was locked in to play for the Hawkeyes.

“Thankfully that letter came through, and I found this school,” he said. “I’m glad. It’s by far the best choice.”

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