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Men’s tennis adds to fall schedule

BY RYAN MURPHY | SEPTEMBER 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa men’s tennis head coach Steve Houghton wanted to challenge his top players.

He also wanted to give his younger players a chance to compete before the main season comes in the spring.

So, the longtime Hawkeye coach chose to do something unusual: extend the fall schedule.

The Iowa men’s tennis team will participate in more fall events than ever before, which, he said, was deliberate.

“By adding a couple of events, we’re able to get more people in competition and get some better events for our top guys.” Houghton said.

The “top guys” are seniors Marc Bruche and Will Vasos. The doubles team of Bruche and Vasos enters the fall season ranked No. 41 in the nation, and Bruche sits at No. 101 individually.

Vasos and Bruche will have chances to make an impression at such events as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American on Oct. 1-3, in which doubles teams such as Georgia Tech’s Kevin King and Juan Spir — the No. 1 ranked team in the nation — will compete, as well as numerous other national powers.

Vasos said the competition of the fall season will be a huge boost for his spring preparation.

“We get to face some strong teams, and it really gets us prepared for the spring season,” he said.

The team will send Hawkeyes to seven events in the fall season, a jump from the usual four or five. Houghton added trips to the Drake Invitational in Des Moines and the H-E-B Tournament in Waco, Texas. These new tournaments are additions to trips to the Purdue and Northwestern Invitationals, which have become mainstays on the fall schedule.

The Hawkeyes will also have two weekends — Sept. 23-25 and Oct. 20-23 — in which they will compete in two events in the same weekend, an occurrence that is not exclusive to the longer season. Houghton said he will send a certain number of players to each tournament based on the selection of opponents at that event.

“We have a really big roster [14 players], so having these events lets us give a lot of our guys a chance to play at these events and gain the experience,” Houghton said.

NCAA rules put a limit on the number of team events in which a squad is allowed to participate during the fall season. Houghton said there’s a loophole, though; sending only two or four players to a certain event doesn’t count against the team’s total. This gives an opportunity for Iowa’s veteran players to face national competition and can give much-needed experience to underclassmen at the same time.

Junior Garret Dunn said giving the team’s younger members a chance to impress the coaches will be beneficial for both the players themselves and the team as a whole.

“We want to get the new guys some experience,” Dunn said. “We also want to show everybody else that we are still in this, that we are still here.”


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