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Hawks' fall tennis comes to an end

BY RYAN MURPHY | NOVEMBER 01, 2011 7:20 AM

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Jonas Dierckx's improbable run to the final day of the Big Ten indoor championships finally came to an end on Monday morning at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center.

Dierckx fell to Michigan State's Aaron Pfister, the No. 12-seeded player in the tournament (6-2, 6-0).

Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said Dierckx ran into an opponent with whom he didn't match up well; Pfister stands 6-4; Dierckx is listed at 5-9.

"[Pfister] was just too good," Houghton said. "He was just a buzz saw, and he overpowered Jonas in a lot of ways."

Pfister went on to claim the Big Ten singles title by defeating Illinois' Stephen Hoh (6-4, 6-2) in the championship match.

Despite the semifinal loss, Dierckx had one of the most impressive weekends of his young Hawkeye career. He had a 8-1 overall record, including a 4-0 run to a flight championship in doubles.

The sophomore said he had a great tournament despite the loss.

"It was an amazing tournament for me, and it was definitely unexpected," he said.

Houghton compared Dierckx's run with the performance of such past players as Christian Bierich, the last Iowa player to win the Big Ten indoors, in 2008.

"[2008] was very similar to this; those guys weren't necessarily seeded very high, but day by day by day, they got more confident," Houghton said.

Dierckx's run served as an exclamation point on what was one of the best fall seasons in recent memory for the Hawkeyes, who will begin the spring season with matches against William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., on Jan. 28, 2012.

The Hawkeyes won titles in events at Purdue and Drake over the past two months, had an overall winning record in singles matches, and made school history at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American.

Houghton said each of Iowa's top three players — Dierckx and seniors Marc Bruche and Will Vasos — had a career-defining tournament in the fall season.

"It's an appropriate end for us," Houghton said. "Marc had his day this fall, and the same thing for Will, with both of those guys at the All-American. Now, Jonas had his day here."

Houghton also pointed to freshman Matt Hagan as another Hawkeye who made an impact.

Senior Chris Speer, who led the Hawkeyes with 10 singles victories in the fall, said the team's success should serve as a springboard for success where it matters: the spring season.

"We had a really good fall season overall," he said. "Everyone is improving week by week, and our main goal is to bring it into the spring season and keep it going."

Houghton said the play of his top three players — with additions from Hagan, Speer, and others — made for a memorable fall.

"It's been a special fall — largely because of those four guys, but our other guys have contributed, too," he said. "Behind those four guys, it's wide open for the spring season."


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