Hawkeye tennis falters on senior day

BY BEN ROSS | APRIL 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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The No. 62 Iowa men's tennis team (8-12, 2-8) couldn't get much going for itself against No. 23 Minnesota (17-4, 8-2) on Senior Day, falling to the Gophers, 5-2, at the Klotz Outdoor Tennis Courts.

Iowa failed to win the crucial doubles point in the beginning, giving Minnesota an early lead. Sophomore Garret Dunn and junior Tom Mroziewicz were the lone doubles team to win their set, 9-7, over Minnesota's Brendan Ruddock and Tobias Wernet.

After the doubles matches, there was a ceremony honoring Iowa's two seniors — Austen Kauss and Nikita Zotov. Kauss will continue his education by enrolling in the University of Nebraska's law school, AND Zotov plans on returning Moscow, Russia.

Earlier in the week, Kauss had said that he hadn't even thought about playing his final match at Iowa later on, but HE had different thoughts Sunday.

"I guess I'm kind of humbled," the Overland Park, Kan., native said. "It's obviously kind of an emotional match for Nik and I; we knew we would have to play well to beat these guys because they're a really solid team. We both put in a really solid effort today, it just didn't go our way. We're not really frustrated with the end results, it's just kind of been the end of wild ride I guess you could say."

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Freshman Jonas Dierckx and junior Will Vasos were the only two Hawkeyes to tally wins, with Dierckx defeating Ruddock (6-1, 6-1). Vasos ended up on top at the end of a grueling battle with Minnesota's Rok Bonin (2-6, 7-4, 7-6).

Vasos improved his record to a team-best 14-6 after the win, with Dierckx picking up his second singles win in seven appearances on the season.

Dierckx cited his good practice habits and aggressiveness for his success.

"I think if I just keep on grinding and keep the ball in play, we have to be aggressive," he said. "I had to focus on keep on playing balls. I've been practicing well for the past three weeks, and if I just continue to do what I'm doing I'll stay successful."

Iowa will travel to Madison, Wis., this week to compete in the Big Ten championships — beginning Thursday — and try to earn its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament in Stanford, Calif. Last season, Iowa defeated Purdue in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament before falling to Illinois in Bloomington, Ind.

Even though Iowa is seeded 10th, head coach Steve Houghton believes his team can make a run at a championship, saying that mentality will determine how well his squad will do. The Hawkeyes will meet seventh-seeded Purdue on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

"All the teams are about the same, really," Houghton said. "I think it's all about attitude and focus at this point. In those preliminary matches, it's really going to get down to which team individually and team-wise is still ready to roll and still positive about the season, even though we've had more losses than wins and plenty of suffering through the season.

"If we really dig deep and compete, we'll win a match. It will be a battle no matter what."

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