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“Fitting close” to Iowa men’s tennis fall season

BY MATT COZZI | NOVEMBER 02, 2010 7:15 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team’s performance in the fall season can be described as anything from disappointing to excellent.

While several positives will come out of the fall for the Hawkeyes, there were ups and downs. The season proved to be somewhat uneven for some players.

Opening up in West Lafayette, Ind., No. 1 singles player Marc Bruche was the only Hawkeye to advance in the main draw of the Purdue Invitational, and he eventually reached the semifinals before losing. Senior Austen Kauss also played on the tournament’s final day, albeit on the consolation side of the bracket.

A plethora of freshmen saw mixed results at Purdue, a theme that would stick until this past weekend’s Big Ten Tournament in East Lansing, Mich.

Deemed as one of the deepest recruiting classes that Iowa has had in several years by head coach Steve Houghton, the newcomers would improve tremendously.

Chase Tomlins — who did not make the trip to West Lafayette — flashed his potential in East Lansing. After opening up play with a win, Tomlins lost a tough match in the second round. The Tulsa, Okla., native made the most of his consolation appearance, though, reaching the Flight A quarterfinals before losing.

“He’s certainly done a lot to solidify his position [for the spring],” Houghton said. “There was definitely a big improvement with him from start to finish.”

Perhaps Iowa’s best tournament of the fall was at the Wildcat Invitational in Evanston, Ill., Oct. 15-17. The Hawkeyes posted 11 singles victories, and Bruche recorded four-straight match victories on his way to winning the Flight A bracket.

“Overall, I feel pretty good about the fall,” Houghton said. “Purdue was not very good, and then we had the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, but Northwestern was definitely a highlight.”

With several players getting the opportunity to compete this fall, depth doesn’t seem to be an issue for Iowa heading into the spring season.

Houghton said he anticipates nearly three to five players having to play challenge matches in upcoming practices because of the parity on the roster.

Aside from the main foursome of Bruche, Kauss, Nik Zotov, and Will Vasos, spots are wide open for the Hawkeyes. In total, 12 different players saw fall action.

Junior Vasos said depth is going to be valuable in the spring — especially when Iowa gets into its conference schedule.

“We have a lot of guys who can play any position, which is good, because anyone can fill in at anytime,” he said. “If someone gets injured or [is] not playing too well, we could always bring in another player.”

Bruche, who tallied nine singles match wins this fall, echoed that sentiment.

“The experience mixed in with some of the younger guys will definitely be beneficial,” he said. “We’ll be able to amp up our performance if the more experienced players continue to help the younger guys.”

For Iowa, the final tournament of the fall season may prove to be crucial for the team’s spring season, almost serving as a preview for Big Ten matches. The Hawkeyes posted eight doubles victories and 10 singles match wins.

“It’s been a productive season,” Houghton said. “Really, a fitting close to it, because we played well. There has been a big improvement by our team over the last six weeks.”


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