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Hawkeye men's tennis prepares for All American tournament

BY RYAN MURPHY | SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's tennis team has received strong performances from its players in each of its three fall events thus far.

No fall performance, however, would be bigger than a long run at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., this weekend. Four Hawkeyes will represent Iowa at the tournament: Seniors Marc Bruche and Will Vasos, sophomore Jonas Dierckx, and freshman Andres Estenssoro.

The ITA-All American runs from Saturday through Oct. 9. With the mammoth number of players — 353 singles competitors and 106 doubles teams —the tournament is broken up into three stages. Vasos, Dierckx, and Estenssoro begin singles play in the pre-qualifying stage, while Bruche will skip that first step and start in the qualifying stage.

The three players in pre-qualifying need four victories to advance to the qualifying stage, and another three to advance to the main draw. Both doubles teams begin in qualifying, where three or four victories will be needed to advance to the main draw.

The doubles team of Bruche and Vasos enters the tournament ranked No. 41 in the country, but will face its stiffest competition to date. All of the nation's top 13 doubles teams will compete in Tulsa.

Vasos said building off the team's performance at the Baylor Invitational — where he and Bruche finished second — is important to success at the ITAs.

"We did really well in doubles at Baylor, so we just need to build off that and see what happens," Vasos said.

Despite the competition awaiting the pair, Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said he expects Bruche and Vasos to continue playing well in doubles after a good performance at the Baylor Invitational last weekend. He also said he believes the pair will imrpove their respective singles play.

"Will and Marc are capable of just about anything doubles-wise — but anything can happen, good or bad, in these tournaments," Houghton said. "Singles-wise, I don't think they've played their best tennis yet."

Estenssoro, who will be teaming with Dierckx in doubles play, will be making his first appearance as a Hawkeye. Houghton said breaking in his freshman at this tournament was planned from the beginning of the season.

"We planned on taking him at the beginning of the year after letting him get used to the hard courts, and this is a chance for him to get his feet wet," Houghton said. "It also gives us a chance to see how he will respond to competing."

The freshman from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, said he just wants to have a good showing in his first time out with the Black and Gold.

"My plan is to at least enter into the 'quali,' so I need to win four matches," Estenssoro said. "It's a chance for me to learn, so I just want to give my best effort."

The Iowa coach, who is in the 31st season at the helm of the Hawkeyes, said he also expects good things from Dierckx after the Belgian sophomore's solid performance in the season-opening Purdue Invitational.

Houghton said the tournament will give all his Hawkeyes a chance to make a big statement on a national stage.

"This is an event we can only send four guys to, so I'm hoping our guys can continue the success we've had," the longtime head coach said.


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