Hawkeye tennis' Dunn carrying team with singles prowess

BY TOM CLOS | FEBRUARY 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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Garret Dunn doesn't like to brag.

The native of Tempe, Ariz., has won five-straight singles matches, including four straight-set victories. It's a streak that, because the rest of the team is struggling, has single-handedly made sure the Hawkeyes remain somewhat competitive on the court.

But Dunn refuses to pat himself on the back.

"I'm just trying to focus on the team," he said. "I'm not focusing on streaks or anything."

He figured out an approach to the game that has helped him through his run, and he said it might benefit the teammates that are having problems finding wins.

"Just go out and have more fun," Dunn said. "Just being loose and going out there and enjoying every match; that's been the key."

And while Dunn chose not to acknowledge his winning streak, head coach Steve Houghton did. He said it's a tangible example of how much his 6-8 junior has grown as a player over the course of his career.

"He's the perfect example of a guy who has gotten better year by year," Houghton said. "He reminds me of a big man in basketball, sort of a developmental guy who's gotten better and better."

The longtime head coach said the keys to Dunn's recent surge have been his powerful serve and the ability to use it to get himself out of trouble in important spots.

"It's really a big weapon — in a tight situation, to be able to pull out a big serve," Houghton said. "He's got that weapon that not everybody else has … That big serve he has, it's the type of thing that's intimidating to the guy he's playing."

Few would know more about what the lanky Arizonan has been getting done on the court than current doubles partner Michael Swank. The sophomore said he has noticed a difference in his partner's on-court demeanor that has led to positive results.

"He's very confident," Swank said. "The way he moves, the way he's carrying himself. It's carrying over to the way he plays."

Swank said that, although Dunn is modest, he doesn't hesitate to pass along advice to his teammates — especially at a time such as this, where everyone on the team is struggling.

"Garret's never one to brag, but he is one who tries to be a leader," Swank said. "He's trying to show us emotionally how to handle ourselves right now on the court, and he's doing a really good job of that."

The leadership and team-first attitude manifested itself when Dunn was pressed to discuss his streak. Even when he eventually acknowledged his personal success, he played down its impressiveness and his overall performance this season.

"I'm a streaky player who goes through hot and cold," Dunn said. "[The streak] isn't really that big. There have been bigger."

Follow DI men's tennis reporter Tom Clos on Twitter.

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