Tennis season comes to a close for the Hawkeyes

BY BEN ROSS | MAY 03, 2011 7:20 AM

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The 2011 spring season for the Iowa men's tennis team (8-12, 2-9) can be summed up in the famous saying: close but no cigar. Iowa lost four matches this season by just one point, with another six losses coming by two points.

It's easy to see how the Hawkeyes may have become frustrated with themselves during the long season, with the wins just not coming after poor execution during match play. Iowa ended its season this past weekend with an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament in Madison, Wis., losing in the first round to Purdue, 4-2, on April 28.

Iowa started off the season with a 4-4 record, including a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to then No. 4 Illinois. Things began to snowball for the Black and Gold — the Hawkeyes lost their next Big Ten match to No. 5 Ohio State, 5-2. The Ohio State match had some good news for the team; junior Will Vasos defeated Ohio State's No. 98 Balazs Novack, a senior who was previously 27-0 in Big Ten contests in his career.

"For me, individually, it was a huge win," Vasos said. "It gave me confidence for the rest of the season; it was definitely my highlight of the season."

After the loss to the Buckeyes, Iowa managed to win just two Big Ten matches, coming consecutively against Penn State and at Purdue. After the win at Purdue, Iowa fell into a seven-match losing streak, ultimately ending its season on a losing note. The Hawkeyes did gain some hardware at the tournament, though; No. 1 singles player junior Marc Bruche earned second-team All-Big Ten honors.

"It was an honor for me," he said. "I worked hard the whole season; it's good to get little rewards for a season. I know it was a rough year for the team, but it feels good to earn individual awards."

The squad looks forward to next year, because only two seniors — Austen Kauss and Nikita Zotov — will leave after graduating. This may be a silver lining for the Hawkeyes, because their top two players, Bruche and Vasos, will return, along with sophomore Garret Dunn, junior Tom Mroziewicz, and freshman Jonas Dierckx, all of whom saw extensive action for Iowa this past season.

The returning talent may be a reason for the team to be excited, and Dunn believes that this year was good for learning what will have to be done to be successful.

"We started off successful," he said. "We didn't finish out well, we had a decent season overall, but we learned a lot about what we'll need to do to be successful next year. We need to believe in ourselves. If we can do that, we can do pretty well."

It appears that the 2012 season is something that everyone can look forward to, because the Hawkeyes possess all the pieces that are needed to go on a championship run.

At least that's what Vasos thinks.

"Each and every day, everyone worked as hard as he could," the Fort Collins, Colo., native said. "Next year will be a good deal. Coming back, we will take our good work ethic and roll with it."

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