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Men’s tennis travels to Purdue this weekend

BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | OCTOBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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“We’re starting to figure it out.”

That was all Iowa head men’s tennis coach Steve Houghton had to say about the Hawkeyes’ last two meets — the Northwestern Invitational in Evanston, Ill., and the All-American Invitational in Tulsa, Okla.

The season began with the events last weekend, which brought about question marks that have just now started to be answered.

With top singles player Reinoud Hall out while recovering from foot surgery he underwent during the summer, and a rough meet in Tulsa, Okla., the Hawkeyes are starting to realize their potential.

Doubles action at the All-American Invitational concluded on Tuesday with the pair of senior Tommy McGeorge and sophomore Will Vasos losing to No. 12 ranked Vanderbilt in a match in which the dynamic pair were close to break several times.

Sophomore Marc Bruche and senior Nikita Zotov also fell in the first round of doubles play, losing to a pair from Virginia in their first match together.

“They’re not familiar with each other, really,” Houghton said. “That’s a big thing in doubles, knowing who’s going to take which ball, who will be where — whatever it is.”

Houghton also stressed that while Iowa’s record thus far is not outstanding, one must consider the makeup of the team and the talent the Hawkeyes have competed against.

One positive coming out of last weekend was the performances of freshman Garret Dunn and redshirt freshman Mitch Beckert, who, competing in their first collegiate tournaments, performed well enough to arrive home victorious.

“They got their first matches out of the way, and I think that goes a long way in getting rid of the butterflies that may have been there before,” Houghton said.

Beckert won’t have to wait long for his second chance — he will be one of four Hawks to travel to the Purdue Invitational. Freshman Connor Gilmore, sophomore Tom Mroziewicz, and junior Austen Kauss will fill out the squad.

After notching wins in both singles and doubles play for the first time, a foot injury will kept Dunn out of the lineup.

Last weekend, with Iowa’s top four players off at the tournament in Tulsa, Okla., the rest of the Hawkeyes were forced to play at a higher level than they normally would. Mroziewicz led Iowa in the Northwestern tournament, and he is expected to assume the same position this weekend.

Houghton is optimistic about how the four will fare.

“As in any sport, I feel the biggest improvement happens from the first competition to the second,” he said.

The Hawkeyes will have to bank on that. With a roster laden with young, relatively inexperienced talent, they will face a tough field that includes Butler, Eastern Illinois, Purdue, and Marquette.

“We’re definitely looking to improve on some of the things that we didn’t do so well last weekend,” Mrozieczwicz said. “Just trying to get some wins.”


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