Iowa men's tennis suffers another loss

BY TOM CLOS | APRIL 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa men's tennis team is running out of opportunities to end its losing streak.

The Hawkeyes were unable to capitalize on early leads in doubles play and followed by losing five of six singles matches in a 6-1 defeat to No. 72 Purdue at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

Iowa has lost 15-straight matches, and its record spiraled to 1-17 (0-7 Big Ten) on the season. Four meets remain in the regular season.

Iowa held early leads in two of the three doubles matches, but both evaporated in what has become a growing issue for the team.

The biggest missed opportunity came in the No. 3 position. The team of senior Tom Mroziewicz and sophomore Jonas Dierckx blew a 5-2 advantage by losing six of its final nine games in an 8-6 defeat.

"We can't afford to give up a big lead there," head coach Steve Houghton said. "What hurt us was that [Mroziewicz] and [Dierckx] don't have big serves — therefore, when they're up a couple of breaks, there are no guarantees."

Senior Will Vasos and freshman Matt Hagan were also the victims of wasted chances in their 8-6 fall in the No. 2 spot.

Iowa's most stable duo this season, junior Garret Dunn and sophomore Michael Swank, fell behind early and saw its late attempt at a comeback go for naught in an 8-5 undoing in the No. 1 slot.

"In No. 1 doubles, you just can't afford to get down like that," Houghton said. "The likelihood of being able to come back and win that match is pretty slim. We have got to play a lot better early on in the match."

In singles play, freshman Matt Hagan (No. 1), sophomore Jonas Dierckx (No. 3), and senior Chris Speer (No. 6) all faltered in straight sets.

The match was Speer's second of the season after he tore a tendon in his right hand over winter break. He made his spring début April 6 against Indiana.

"It felt great to get an opportunity, but I wish the results were better than they were," he said. "I need to step it up next time."

Speer said that his hand was back to "100 percent" and that he needs to continue to get more repetitions in practice and "work on his serve."

Houghton said he was happy to see Speer on the court but said the expectations for him this weekend may have been set too high.

"I was probably hopeful of too much," Houghton said. "[Chris] probably was, too, but he needs to be finely tuned. It's obvious right now that he's not."

Vasos and Mroziewicz both succumbed in super-tiebreakers in their singles matches at the No. 2 and No. 5 spots, respectively.

But Vasos turned in his second-consecutive sharp performance, following a victory against Indiana on April 6. He rolled in the first set and kept things close in a second-set defeat before falling in the super-tiebreaker (1-6, 6-4, 1-0 [10-5]).

"I knew I could hang tough, and I came out and hit a lot of balls," Vasos said. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't get a team win, but hopefully, we can build on it."

The lone Iowa point came from Dunn's 7-6, 6-2 victory in the No 4. singles matchup.

"[Dunn] has probably been the guy who has lifted his game the most this year," Houghton said. "If I had to choose an MVP right now, he'd be the guy."

Houghton said he'll use any means necessary to figure out a solution to the team's doubles woes and issues with singles.

"There come times when you just need to make some changes," Houghton said. "Changing partners at No. 2 and No. 3 [doubles] is one possibility. The other would be to throw in another guy or two, to kind of shake things up.

"We need a change."

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

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