Men’s tennis defeats Penn State

BY SETH ROBERTS | APRIL 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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History will remember Iowa sophomore Marc Bruche as the victor of the Battle of the Cramps.

Bruche overcame tightness in both his right calf and left forearm to defeat Penn State’s Edward Bourchier (7-5, 4-6, 6-3) and carry the No. 73 Iowa men’s tennis team to a 4-3 upset over the No. 58 Nittany Lions on Sunday.

Bourchier suffered a cramped hamstring late in the third set of the three-hour match, and Bruche took advantage by winning five of the next seven points to claim the meet’s deciding point in the No. 1 slot.

“It was a great release,” Bruche said after smashing the final point home and screaming with emotion. “I was just really happy.”

Although illness has forced Bruche to retire once this season, he said Sunday was the first time he has ever played through a cramp.

“I was surprised and a little scared,” he said. “I expected the worst, but I did a lot of stretching and drank a lot, so I was able to relax.”

The sophomore also won in doubles, coming from behind with partner Tom Mroziewicz to defeat Penn State’s Bourchier and Guillaume St-Maurice, 8-7 (7-1) in the No. 2 slot. The win gave the Hawkeyes a sweep in doubles, and Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said his team has taken “a big step forward” in that area.

“At one point this season, Penn State had won 11-straight doubles points,” Houghton said. “I think we finally put together our doubles play. Everyone will remember Marc’s victory, but it would have been meaningless without the doubles point.”

Houghton also said he was not surprised by the cramps that attacked both Bruche and Bourchier, calling the ailments “business as usual” for a three-hour match. Several players on both sides were nursing the aches and pains that accompany a long season.

One Hawkeye who has remained pain-free is Will Vasos, who won in both singles and doubles for the second time this weekend. The sophomore’s 8-6 victory alongside senior Tommy McGeorge clinched the doubles point for Iowa, and Vasos quickly defeated Penn State freshman Warren Hardie (6-4, 6-4) in the No. 4 singles position.

Vasos also provided the only victories in the team’s 6-1 loss to No. 2 Ohio State on April 2, winning in doubles and beating No. 113 Shuwei Uzawa (4-6, 6-1, 7-5) in singles to kick-start his perfect 4-0 weekend.

Iowa senior Reinoud Haal rebounded from a loss against Ohio State to provide the Hawkeyes with their third singles win against the Nittany Lions.

After dropping the first set 2-6, Haal went on to beat sophomore Jason Lee with a pair of 6-1 wins in the No. 3 match.

The triumph over Penn State (12-6, 1-3) pushes the Hawkeyes’ record to 10-6 for the season, 2-2 in the conference.

Houghton said he was happy with the result — especially because it came against a ranked Penn State team.

“You have to think that we’re going to play a lot more 4-3 meets before the season is over,” the 29th-year coach said. “Winning this one should give the guys a reservoir of confidence.”

Playing at home has also helped the Hawkeyes. Mroziewicz said the atmosphere at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center gives Iowa an advantage.

“Whether we’re playing inside or out doesn’t really matter when we’re at home,” he said. “We’ve only lost a few meets at home over the past few years, so whenever we’re at home we feel as if we have a great shot to win.”

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