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Australian tennis player enjoys being a fan of the sport as much as playing

BY KEVIN GLUECK | OCTOBER 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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Most athletes are very knowledgeable about their sport. But none may be more of a nut for the sport they play than Iowa men’s tennis redshirt freshman Rob Trower.

“There’s probably nobody I know on the team who’s more into tennis itself,” said head coach Steve Houghton. “He’s a walking encyclopedia of tennis knowledge. If he had his preference, he would play tennis five or six hours a day.”

Trower’s obsession with tennis has earned him the nickname “ATP” on the team, a reference to the Association of Tennis Players — the name of the top-tier professional tennis tour.

“The reason I watch is that I love certain … players,” Trower, a native of Australia, said. “I love to copy some of the things they do.”

Trower says that his biggest influence is fellow-Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, who at 20 was the youngest male ever to be ranked No. 1 in the world. Trower also enjoys watching Roger Federer.

“I get ideas, like the way that they structure points,” he said. “I love watching them. They’re very controlled in their mental game.”

The native of Melbourne took advantage of his hometown surroundings. Melbourne is the host of the Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slams. But Trower isn’t just a patron of the Open, he’s actually involved behind the scenes of the tournament.

“I actually was a hitting partner for some of the women,” Trower said. “I got to go every year.”

Trower said that he got to see some of the players behind the scenes, including his idol Hewitt and the current top Australian player Bernard Tomic.

Trower joined the Iowa team in January 2011 after finishing high school in December 2010. He said American universities offer scholarships, unlike Australian universities, which attracted him to the States.

“I got an email from a coach recommending a few guys to check into,” Houghton said. “We checked on Rob, and the connection was made at that point.”

Trower had offers from a variety of schools including Illinois and North Carolina but chose to come to the UI.

“We’re in a big conference, and the standard of tennis is really good here,” Trower said.

Because of his late arrival in the middle of the 2010-11 season, Trower redshirted last spring. He said his redshirt during the Big Ten season was beneficial because he was able to observe the teams that he will be competing against this season.

This fall he’s getting his first competition, and Trower has picked up both a singles and doubles win this season. His doubles partner, Alejandro Rios, says he’s adapted well to college tennis.

“In practice, he’ll get more emotional, but during a tournament he’s more collected and focused,” said Rios. “It helps you stay focused without having to deal with your partner being out of the match.”

While the UI is Trower’s plan for now, he does have aspirations beyond college tennis. Having played some of the world’s top-200 players, the Australian believes he can eventually play professionally.

“My goal has always been to be a pro. As soon as I’m finished here, I’m going to try to travel around and see how far I can get,” Trower said.


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