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Men's tennis builds for spring

BY RYAN MURPHY | SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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The fall may not be college tennis' regular season, but that doesn't mean it has no effect.

Iowa head men's tennis coach Steve Houghton said the fall season gives his players some much-needed experience and gives him an idea of where the Hawkeyes' strengths and weaknesses lie.

"It gets these guys in competition," he said. "We'll get all of our new guys in, and it gives us a sense of where they are and where our returning guys are. It has an effect on how we look at things for the second semester."

The fall season gives him a chance to determine the best course of action for the start of the spring season, he said.

"We'll take a look at how guys have done individually," Houghton said. "Then, we'll make a decision on who's definitely in the lineup and who is on the edge for the second semester."

Senior Will Vasos, who had the most Iowa victories in the spring, said the fall season gives the Hawkeyes the ability to create momentum before the spring season.

"It's all building toward the spring season," he said. "With each tournament, we want to get better and better and get a lot of experience."

The Hawkeyes begin the season with two team members in national rankings, led by senior Marc Bruche as the No. 101 singles player. Bruche and doubles partner Vasos check in at No. 41.

The Hawkeyes begin the fall season with their annual trip to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Purdue Invitational, held today through Sept. 18. The team will send eight players — senior Chris Speer, juniors Mitch Beckert, Garret Dunn, and Connor Gilmore, sophomores Jonas Dierckx, Chase Tomlins, and Joey White, and freshman Matt Hagan — to Purdue. In the first tournament of the season, Iowa will compete against a list of schools including Arkansas, DePaul, and host Purdue. The Black and Gold will see action in three levels of singles competition and two in doubles.

As one of the younger Hawkeyes getting a chance to play, Hagan said he was looking forward to the opportunity to compete in his first college tournament.

"It's really exciting to come in as a freshman and play in some really high-quality tournaments," said Hagan, whose letter of intent was announced last week.

Notable by their absence on the list are Bruche and Vasos. Neither will compete this weekend, and Houghton said leaving the pair in Iowa City gives the two a chance to further prepare for some of the team's bigger fall events.

By omitting Bruche and Vasos, Houghton hopes it will give some much-needed experience to some younger team members.

"We're taking some returning guys who haven't gotten the chance to play in many tournaments the last year or two," said Houghton, who is entering his 31st year as the Hawkeye tennis coach. "It will be good to find out what they can do."


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