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Hawkeye tennis player leads by example

BY RYAN MURPHY | SEPTEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Senior tennis player Will Vasos describes himself as a “pretty laid-back guy”.

The 21-year-old Hawkeye loves watching “Entourage” and football, and he said he tries not to take things “too seriously.”

But as soon as Vasos sets foot on the court to compete for the Hawkeyes, he morphs into one of the team’s most driven and confident players — a player who has become a top performer for the Iowa men’s tennis team in the last three years.

Vasos led the Hawkeyes in dual-meet singles victories last spring and was named team MVP in spring 2010. His accomplishments have made him a team leader for the Hawkeyes.

Junior teammate Garret Dunn said Vasos is as much of a team leader off the court, a feat accomplished by his infectious personality.

“He’s a really great guy to be around, and that really helps to make us a cohesive team,” Dunn said.
Vasos said he doesn’t do anything in particular to solidify his spot as a team leader, he just leads by example and fosters team unity.

“I just try to bring everyone together, and I just try to bring that family aspect to the team,” he said. “We all hang out together, and it shows in our team chemistry.”

The Fort Collins, Colo., native chose Iowa, in part, because both his parents were Hawkeyes. On the court, he models his personality on professional tennis player Marcos Baghdatis by staying loose and never taking the game too seriously.

Throughout his three seasons as a Hawkeye, Vasos has been able to improve his game, and he has winning records in singles play in all three spring seasons.

Head men’s tennis coach Steve Houghton said his constant progress is a difficult task.

“He has made tremendous improvement, and he’s done something that isn’t all that easy, which is to improve every year,” Houghton said. “Some people take a big jump one year and then level off. He hasn’t done that.”

Vasos worked his way up the Iowa lineup from the No. 4 position, where he competed as a freshman, to the No. 2 position, which he finished the 2011 spring season. He has also played on the No. 1 doubles team for 11 matches in spring 2010 and all but two matches in 2011. Last spring’s No. 1 doubles team of Vasos and current senior Marc Bruche recorded a Big Ten record of 6-4.

Houghton said Vasos continues to work on certain aspects of his game to improve, and he noted that a spike in Vasos’ conditioning has markedly improved his play.

“He wins a lot with big shots from his forehand, and he’s really improved his backhand,” Houghton said. “The next step is to really improve his serve to the [extent] where he is winning points with it.”

Vasos’ 11-16 fall singles record has not been stellar — especially when compared with his 51-43 career mark in spring singles events. Vasos attributes this to the more singular nature of fall competition.

“The fall is more individual than the spring, but I’m working harder than I have ever before to have a good fall and then a great spring,” he said.

As one of the team’s leaders, Vasos knows eyes are on him every time he steps on the court, a fact that he uses to lead by example. So far, it seems as if it’s working, because Vasos’ personality earned him the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in both his sophomore and junior seasons.

“I just try to get better every day and also make my teammates better,” he said.


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