Getting it Dunn on the tennis court

BY BEN ROSS | APRIL 26, 2011 7:20 AM

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At 6-8, sophomore Garret Dunn looks more like he should be skying for rebounds on the hardwood rather than serving up aces on the tennis court.

Perhaps that's what makes him so dangerous. His large frame makes him an intimidating figure at the net, and there is hardly ever a ball he can't reach. And his serve? Head tennis coach Steve Houghton has called Dunn's serve "pro level," and he said Dunn has the best serve on the team.

Dunn can also be seen as the definition of the term "student-athlete." The finance and accounting major has a 4.0 GPA, and he was co-valedictorian at Corona del Sol High in Tempe, Ariz. When he wasn't hitting the books in high school, he could be seen on the tennis court, where he earned all-state honors and was the No. 2 player in Arizona as a senior after compiling a record of 26-5.

Dunn started playing tennis at age 10, even though neither of his parents ever really played the sport. His mother, Caroline Dunn, a Muscatine native and Iowa alumna, said a friend got Garret into tennis at a young age, and he kept on going up from there.

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"He started playing with a friend," she said. "There was a team-tennis opportunity for them that they just jumped right up on, and he seemed to really like it. He even played in the street. He was playing basketball and baseball as well, and by the time he was 12, he decided he really wanted to focus on tennis, so he dropped those other sports.

"He needed to do something that was his and that he could focus on, and it was something he really liked."

Garret Dunn had plenty of options to play college tennis. Along with Iowa, he considered Penn State, Arizona, and Michigan State, but said he thought Iowa would be the best fit, because he was looking for a great academic school at which he could play tennis as well.

"I wanted to get out of [Arizona] and try something new," Dunn said. "I liked Iowa more. I really liked the atmosphere here and thought it would a great place to go for four years.

"Iowa has great academics, too, and I felt like I could get the best of both worlds coming out here."

In his first year of extensive action as a Hawkeye, Dunn has earned nine singles victories as well as a 12-8 record in doubles. His wins include a singles victory over Ohio State's No. 98 Nelson Vick and a doubles win with partner Tom Mroziewicz over the then-No. 4 Illinois' doubles team of Johnny Hamui and Brian Alden.

The regular season is over for the Hawkeyes, but the squad will travel to Madison, Wis., where they will face Purdue in a Big Ten Tournament first-round contest on Thursday. The last time Dunn faced Purdue, he handily defeated his opponent in singles and helped Iowa sweep the doubles category.

Houghton has confidence in Dunn's play on a big stage and believes he can be successful in Madison.

"He will definitely be in the lineup in the Big Ten tournament," Houghton said. "He's a power player, he's got that big serve, got that big body where he has good reach. He continues to get better, not just year-by-year but sort of month-by-month. We expect him to be a really good player in the next couple years."

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