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UI soph 8-0 in Big Ten tennis championships

BY RYAN MURPHY | OCTOBER 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Big Ten indoor championships are a chance for the Iowa men's tennis team to make a statement before the end of the fall season.

And no one on the Hawkeye roster has made a bigger impact than Jonas Dierckx.

He won four singles matches to advance to the semifinals of the conference indoor tournament today. The sophomore will face Michigan State's No. 12-seeded Aaron Pfister in the semis at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center.

 

"I never expected to go so far in the tournament," Dierckx said. "It's really special to do it … and to have my team right there cheering for me."

Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said Dierckx has had one of the best weekends of his Hawkeye career; his run in singles came after the Belgian native claimed the doubles championship with teammate Matt Hagan.

"It's been an unbelievable weekend for Jonas," said Houghton, who is in his 31st year as Iowa coach. "[The quarterfinal] was probably the biggest win he has had since he's been here."

That match came against Indiana's No. 1-seeded Josh MacTaggart, whom the sophomore trailed 4-2 in the second set before reeling off four-straight games to win the match (6-4, 6-4).

Houghton said beating MacTaggart, who was an All-Big Ten player last season, gives Dierckx a career-defining victory.

"[MacTaggart] plays a style that is designed to annoy opponents and drive them crazy, but Jonas stayed mentally tough throughout the match, and that's probably the main reason he won," the coach said.

Dierckx also knocked off two players from Michigan in his run. After losing the first set in his opening match, he has won eight-consecutive sets.

Dierckx's successes began on Oct. 28, when he teamed up with Hagan to claim the Flight B doubles championship. Hagan and Dierckx played together for the first time.

Dierckx said his successful weekend has been the result of simply being ready to play.

"I prepared really well, I came to play early, and practiced really well, and I think that has been the key this weekend," he said.

Freshman Andres Estenssoro was the only other Hawkeye to win multiple games in singles play. The Santa Cruz, Bolivia, native won two back-draw matches — his first two wins in the Black and Gold — to record a 2-2 record on the weekend.

"It's great to win again," Estenssoro said. "It's opened up something new for me."

The semifinals and finals in both the main and back draws will begin today at 9 a.m. at the tennis center. Dierckx's match is one of four beginning play at 9 a.m.

Houghton said obtaining the last two wins necessary for the conference title won't be easy for Dierckx.

"It'll be even tougher tomorrow, but he is capable of doing all kinds of things," Houghton said. "This has been his weekend."

Follow DI men's tennis reporter Ryan Murphy on Twitter.


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