Hawkeyes fly high with win over in-state rival Drake

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa’s men’s tennis squad (4-3) came out strong Wednesday night against Drake (6-1) and cruised to a 5-2 victory.

The doubles set the tone. The Black and Gold claimed victory in all three doubles matches, with sophomore Garret Dunn and junior Tom Mroziewicz leading the way. They emerged with a swift 8-2 win over Drake’s Jean Erasmus and Jonathan Hadash. Austen Kauss and Jonas Dierckx followed by recording an 8-5 win.

Juniors Marc Bruche and Will Vasos needed a comeback but closed out doubles play with an 8-7 win against Mauricio Ballivan and Robin Goodman.

Bruche said he benefited from the up-tempo doubles play, partially attributing his singles success to Iowa’s strong start.

“I felt comfortable in doubles,” he said. “We’re getting better and better, and it’s always fun to win the close ones.”

Bruche was able to record another win over Ballivan in the singles round (6-2, 6-3), avenging a loss in Des Moines from last year.

“I played solid,” said Bruche. “I was pumped up. I lost to the same guy last year, and I was looking forward to a rematch.”

Dunn picked up his play to win in straight sets over Hadash. Vasos followed suit with a huge win over James McKie to seal the victory for Iowa, and Kauss finished up the match with a win in three sets over Anis Ghorbel.

Head coach Steve Houghton was proud of his team, praising the competitive attitude he saw.

“We competed really well,” he said. “We won some close matches. All the guys who won played really well, particularly when it really counted; we really fought back if we needed to.”

Dunn also agreed with his teammate Bruche, saying that his play in doubles helped on the singles side, too.

“It definitely helped,” the 6-8 sophomore said. “My ground strokes were better, and I was more patient.”

The squad now rides a three-match winning streak, which it will take into its meeting against No. 9 Illinois in Iowa City on March 6. While the rest will be welcomed with open arms by the Hawkeyes — who have now played three matches in six days — the team doesn’t want to let its momentum slip away.

Houghton doesn’t see that happening.

“This is the only weekend we have off all year,” he said. “It won’t be at all hard to get them motivated for Illinois.”

While some may think that relaxation could be fatal for a team riding on a momentum high, Houghton disagrees.

“People don’t realize how demanding a sport tennis is,” he said. “We have played [Illinois] tough lately; our guys will be relaxed and ready.”

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