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Hawkeye tennis fifth-year senior finds coaching role for the team

BY KEVIN GLUECK | SEPTEMBER 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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Fifth-year senior Tom Mroziewicz wasn’t quite ready to leave the men’s tennis team after his last season as a Hawkeye, so he is still a factor off the court for the squad.

Mroziewicz helps head coach Steve Houghton and assistant coach Steve Nash with coaching duties and individual lessons in practice while he finishes a degree in marketing.

One of the conditions of staying on scholarship in the NCAA as a fifth-year senior after all eligibility is used is to work either for the specific team the athlete is on or for the Athletics Department in some form. This could be anything from working in the learning center to working on the field at football games. Mroziewicz knew exactly what he wanted to do in order to maintain his scholarship.

“Thankfully, the coaches asked me to help out. I was happy to do that,” Mroziewicz said. “This is something I know. It’s fun to be back here to help out. I’d take this any day or any other job.”

Mroziewicz had a lot of success as a doubles player for the Hawkeyes. The native of Canada consistently played in the top of the lineup for most of his doubles career. This included an 8-5 overall record and 6-3 Big Ten record as a senior in the No. 3 position.

Mroziewicz draws from his experience as a player to coach his former teammates rather than merely being an extra hitting partner when an odd number of players are at practice. Nash said Mroziewicz will pull out single players individually and work on certain drills the player is having issues with.

“Tom knows what I expect on technical issues. He’s been here for four years. I’m comfortable with him going on court and working with players,” Nash said “It allows me the freedom to coach the team and pull out a guy out to get extra reps he needs on a shot.”

Nash said Mroziewicz’s accurate baseline and passing shots are his best attributes in his game.

Combined with ability to give hard returns off of serves and ability to grind out points, Mroziewicz is the model hitting partner to assist the coaching staff in developing the team.

That Mroziewicz now coaches a lot of his former teammates serves for an interesting coach-player relationship.

“When he’s talking to guys they don’t feel like he’s looking down on them,” Nash said. “Sometimes, players will think, ‘Coach is being too hard on me. He doesn’t get it.’ They don’t think that with [Tom]. They think, ‘He does understand what I’m going through because he’s just been through that.’ ”

Senior Garret Dunn said the familiarity Mroziewicz has with the team gives him insight.

“He’s been able to see what everyone needs to work on from last year,” Dunn said. “As a former player, he can see things from a player’s perspective< and he can give us coaching advice.”

For Mroziewicz, helping his former teammates is the part of the job.

“One of the perks of this is that I’m on the court with people I consider my friends,” he said. “It’s easy for me to talk to them. The respect is mutual where I can offer some insight, and they can take it properly.”


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