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Iowa men's tennis competing in two events this weekend

BY RYAN MURPHY | OCTOBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's tennis team will face some stiff competition in its final events before the Big Ten Singles/Doubles Championships in Iowa City next week.

The Hawkeyes will compete in two tournaments this weekend: the Wildcat Invitational in Evanston, Ill., and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Regional Championships in Tulsa, Okla.

Sophomores Jonas Dierckx and Chase Tomlins will represent the Hawkeyes at the Central Regional held today through Oct. 25 at the Case Tennis Center in Tulsa. Six others will play in Evanston at the Combe Indoor Tennis Center, with play running from today through Oct. 23.

Dierckx and Tomlins will play individually in the main draw of the tournament and also compete together in doubles. The winner of the main draw will advance to the Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., next month.

Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said the two sophomores will face some of the region's top players early in their run by starting in the main draw of the regional tournament.

"They'll play tough guys, for sure, right off the bat," Houghton said. "But I think both of those guys are very capable of doing well down there."

The tournament holds a little extra meaning for Tomlins, because the sophomore is a Tulsa native. Tomlins, who is playing in only his second fall event, said it is a thrill to play in his hometown.

"It should be pretty awesome, because we went down there before, and I wasn't able to go," Tomlins said. "My friends and family are all really excited, so hopefully, I'll have a lot of support."

The Wildcat Invitational could prove to be just as challenging because two of Iowa's top two players, seniors Marc Bruche and Will Vasos, will not participate. Houghton said they have missed enough classes because of tournaments already this fall.

With two of his top players out, Houghton said the competing players at Northwestern will face players they might not necessarily play in the spring season.

"We're going to have guys playing up [in the lineup], and playing [against] guys who would be higher in a lineup than they might be," said Houghton, who is in his 31st year as men's tennis coach. "It's a great opportunity for those guys to build up their résumé in terms of the lineup for second semester, but it will definitely be a real challenge."

One Hawkeye competing in the Wildcat Invitational who has had an impressive fall thus far is senior Chris Speer, who has amassed an 8-1 singles record in two events.

Speer said facing a Big Ten opponent in Evanston will help the Hawkeyes build some more momentum heading into the conference-wide season finale.

"We want to prove we're capable of competing with and beating some of the best teams in the Big Ten," Speer said. "We just want to keep the confidence going into the Big Ten Tournament in Iowa City next weekend."


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