Men’s tennis overcomes slow start, defeats DePaul

BY SETH ROBERTS | MARCH 01, 2010 7:30 AM

Rachel Jessen/The Daily Iowan
Murderas defender Nathan Hentschel takes a shot on goal during a second-round intramural game against SAE1 on Feb. 24 in the Bubble.
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Resiliency separates the good teams from the great teams.

After a sloppy start in doubles play, the No. 55 Iowa men’s tennis team (6-1) stormed back in singles competition to notch a 7-0 victory over visiting DePaul (5-8) on Sunday. The victory gave the Hawkeyes their third win in a week and extended the team’s winning streak to six.

Iowa won two out of three doubles matches to claim the doubles point, but head coach Steve Houghton said he wasn’t happy with how his team played in the opening round.

“We came out flat in doubles,” he said. “There’ll be a match or two per year where that happens, but I spoke to the team in the break between doubles and singles and told them that that’s not how we play tennis.”

Houghton attributed his team’s slow start to a lack of mental focus and, perhaps, overconfidence.

“DePaul is better than its record indicates, and it has some very capable guys,” Houghton said. “It lost at Drake [on Saturday], and we had beaten Drake on Wednesday. It can be hard to see that and not get complacent. From a psychological standpoint, it’s hard to not let the scores seep in.”

The No. 2 pairing of Will Vasos and Tommy McGeorge defeated Vanja Grgec and Mathias Hambach, 8-6. No. 3 Reinoud Haal and Garret Dunn combined to defeat Matija Palinic and Douglas Perrin, 8-4.

However, the No. 1 team of Marc Bruche and Nikita Zotov lost to DePaul’s Bartosz Jozwiak and Ben Hartman, 8-6.

Iowa rebounded after Houghton’s talk, and all six Hawkeye singles players won their first sets. No. 2 Zotov finished first after his opponent, DePaul sophomore Matija Palinic, twisted his ankle and was hobbled for the remainder of the match.

Zotov took advantage to win (6-3, 6-3).

Vasos defeated Hambach in the No. 4 position (6-4, 6-4), and No. 3 Haal beat Hartman (6-1, 6-4).

No. 1 single player Bruche won the meet’s deciding point, avenging his doubles loss to Jozwiak by defeating the DePaul junior (6-2, 1-6, 6-3). He screamed with emotion after scoring the final point of the match.

“I was pretty happy the match was over,” he said. “I was kind of flat all day, and I was glad I could win the third set pretty quickly after dropping the second.”

Sophomore Tom Mroziewicz defeated DePaul’s Perrin (7-5, 6-3) in the No. 6 slot, and No. 5 McGeorge overcame Vanja Grgec in a tiebreaker set to end the meet.

Vasos’ and Haal’s singles victories pushed both their individual records to 6-1 on the season.

Houghton said he is pleased with the way the duo has played.

“They’ve been very solid,” he said. “They were both good for us last year, so I think there’s some confidence coming over into this season.”

Sunday’s meet was Iowa’s first home competition in three weeks, and Houghton said it was good to be back after a string of road meets. He was also impressed with the good crowd turnout — especially because the team won’t play at home again until April.

The meet was also the season début for Mroziewicz, who took over the No. 6 slot from junior Austen Kauss.

“It was pretty cool,” Mroziewicz said. “I had a little experience from last year, but there were still some nerves. It was difficult to battle my opponent and the nerves at the same time, so it was a relief to come out on top.

“I knew that if I hesitated or was doubtful, then I’d have problems. It was a pretty up-and-down match, but I kept having faith and was able to pull through.”

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