Men’s tennis rolls through weekend to break even on the season

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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After a poor showing in Fayetteville, Ark., over Valentine’s weekend, the Hawkeyes needed to rebound. The men’s tennis team didn’t wait long to do so, downing Illinois State on Feb. 18, 4-3, and Western Michigan on Sunday, 7-0, at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

Even though the squad dropped the crucial doubles point against the Redbirds, the Hawkeyes were able to rally for a 4-3 win. The Hawkeyes (3-3) looked down, but not out as senior Austen Kauss and junior Will Vasos came back after first set losses to earn match victories over their opponents.

It was a different story on Sunday, however, as the squad earned its first doubles set victory in four matches and never looked back from there. Juniors Marc Bruche and Vasos led the way in doubles, knocking off Michael and Thomas Calderone. Freshman Jonas Dierckx and Kauss followed suit with a win over Kazuya Komada and Zeyad Montasser.

After that, the Hawkeyes swept the board in singles matches. Vasos was the first Hawkeye to tally a win, cruising to set wins (6-1, 6-0).

Head coach Steve Houghton was proud of his team’s ability to overcome the adversity that was its three-match losing streak.

“[These wins] were really important,” he said. “We played well enough to blow [Western Michigan] out. That doubles point really helped our guys relax.”

The largest story of this weekend’s matches, however, may be the heated words exchanged between players during the Illinois State match. Bruche, the No. 1 singles player, couldn’t help but disagree with some of the calls his opponent, Alexander Pelaez, was making on whether balls were in or out.

“Everyone has a bad call,” Bruche said. “The referees cannot see everything. It usually doesn’t affect our play.”

While some people may cringe at the fact that college tennis is self-officiated, Houghton enjoys what can be seen as unprecedented in other sports.

“That’s what’s unique about tennis,” Houghton said. “Can you see players calling their own fouls in basketball or football? Players make their own calls, and an opponent can appeal, then it’s up to an official. I do like to see my players stick up for their rights, however; these are all very intense matches.”

Bruche was able to overcome his frustration with his opponent to win his match. Sophomore Garret Dunn had some heated words for his opponent as well but was able to use his anger to his advantage.

“It’s tough, but you don’t let it get under your skin,” Dunn said. “It’s an impulse to argue whether balls were in or out. I try not to dwell on the problem and get ready for the next point.”

With only one practice between now and Drake on Feb. 23, the players are looking to relax, but they will still work on the basics, too.

“I’m still going to work out; I can work on rallying from baseline to baseline,” Dunn said. “Our doubles played better today, but we can still improve.”

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