Men's tennis improves singles play


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Singles matches account for six of the seven possible points in a dual meet during the spring season of collegiate tennis.

That bodes well for the Iowa men's tennis team, considering its success in singles in this fall season.

Through the first four events of the fall season — which serves as preparation for the spring — the Hawkeyes have recorded a 36-21 record in singles matches, a .632 winning percentage. Eight of the 11 players that have competed have a .500 record or better, and three have at least five wins.

Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said the team has been concentrating a lot on singles play, and it has been reflected in their successes.

"We've spent a lot of time on singles, more than doubles," Houghton said. "We'll probably pick it up on doubles in the next couple weeks, but we've intentionally focused on singles so far."

Two events in particular have highlighted the Hawkeyes' play in singles competition — the Drake Invitational, held in Des Moines on Sept. 23-25 and the ITA All-American Championships, which took place in Tulsa, Okla., on Oct. 1-9.

Iowa recorded a 10-1 record in singles play in Des Moines. The weekend included undefeated performances by senior Chris Speer — who leads the team with eight singles victories — junior Garret Dunn, and freshman Matt Hagan.

The Hawkeyes scored nine singles victories In the ITA All-American, a historic showing against some of the nation's top teams and players. Senior Will Vasos contributed five of the wins and Marc Bruche added three more. Iowa put two players in the qualifying stage, and a Hawkeye player appeared in the main draw for the first time ever.

The Hawkeyes had only one win in the same event last fall season.

The Black and Gold's performance in singles matches is much improved from last year. The Hawkeyes had a 29-32 record in singles play through four events in the 2010 fall season.

Speer said the improvement comes from constant competition in practice between the Hawkeyes.

"We've had a lot of practice matches within the team, and we've done a lot of individual work," Speer said. "Guys are working on whatever they need the most help on, and we've really been improving."

Vasos agreed with his fellow senior, and said all the Hawkeyes' work is building towards the so-called regular season of collegiate tennis.

"It's all building towards the spring season, so we're just trying to get better," Vasos said.

Houghton said the entire team has made strides in singles play, but pointed to Hagan and sophomore Jonas Dierckx as players that have made the biggest leaps in the fall season. He also pointed out the play of Vasos and Bruche, who he said have "burst onto the national scene" with the seniors' singles play at the All-Americans.

"Virtually everybody has improved to some extent, and guys like Marc and Will have really put it together recently," Houghton said.

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