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Iowa men's tennis to host Big Ten Indoors for first time ever

BY RYAN MURPHY | OCTOBER 28, 2011 7:20 AM

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One of the best men's tennis fall seasons in recent memory is coming to end, and the Hawkeyes now have an opportunity never before given to an Iowa tennis team: The chance to host the Big Ten indoor championships.

The event, which will begin today at 9 a.m. and runs through Oct. 31, will be held at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center.

Iowa head coach Steve Houghton, in his 31st year at the helm of the Hawkeye men's tennis team, said getting to stay home for such an event is an advantage.

"It's good for a lot of reasons, but it's doubly helpful because it's at the end of the fall season, and our guys are tired of traveling," he said. "For once, it's not us that has to do the traveling."

Senior Will Vasos said getting to play in front of a rare fall home crowd — the team hasn't played at home all season — will be a great event for the Hawkeyes.

"It's going to be an awesome experience, and hopefully, we'll get a lot of fans there," he said. "It will be a great way to end my career in the fall."

Senior Chris Speer, who has a fall singles record of 10-2, said the atmosphere will give the Hawkeyes a chance to make a statement.

"We want to end [the fall season] on a good note, and show the team and the university that I and the team are capable of doing a good job out here," he said.

Doubles play will be held today; the A flight is made up of 16 teams, led by Indiana's Stephen Vogl and Josh MacTaggart, ranked 25th in the nation. Singles matches will take place Saturday through Oct. 31, with 64 players placed in the A flight. The top seed is MacTaggart, the nation's No. 55 player and the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week. Iowa senior Marc Bruche is seeded third, and Vasos is seeded 15th.

Nebraska and defending conference champion Ohio State will not participate — Houghton didn't say why — but players from each of the other ten Big Ten teams will play.

All 13 healthy Hawkeyes will get an opportunity to play in singles competition. The last Iowa player to win the singles championship at the conference indoor event was Christian Bierich, who claimed the title in 2008.

Houghton pointed at his top two players, Vasos and Bruche, as threats for deep runs in the tournament in both singles and doubles.

"They've done a lot of big things this year, and — not to put pressure on them — but they are certainly capable of doing big things in this tournament, and as a doubles team they are too," Houghton said.

Vasos said the team goal is to end the fall season on a high note.

"As a team, I hope we can all do really well — and I know we can," Vasos said. "We just have to go out there and do it."


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