Iowa men’s tennis looks to gain experience at Northwestern Invitational


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The Iowa football team isn’t the only Hawkeye sports team heading to Evanston, Ill., this weekend.

The Hawkeye men’s tennis team is heading to the Chicagoland area to compete in the Northwestern Invitational.

Sophomore Andres Estenssoro will represent Iowa with freshman Dominic Patrick and juniors Joey White and Chase Tomlins.

Assistant coach Steve Nash believes that the team will face tough competition during the three-day tournament.

“They’re going to be playing a lot of good players in a lot of matches,” Nash said. “There are a lot of back-draw matches. That’s why those guys are going, to get in there and get their teeth into a match.”

The members of the team who will compete are projected to be in the middle of the lineup in the spring season. Nash hopes that the players progress in how they handle scrutiny.

“The guys we’re sending are talented guys who need to learn how to finish and win under pressure,” he said. “They’re going to be tired, it’s going to be difficult. It’s not about who’s the best player; it’s about how badly you want to win.”

Patrick has shone so far in his freshman year. He came to Iowa as a highly sought-after recruit from Arizona, and he has lived up to some expectations. Patrick has gone 4-2 in singles play this season and won two doubles matches at the Penn Invitational in late September.

He also played in the top flight in the Purdue Invitational in late September, which turned out to be a teaching point for him.

“It helps me to see the level I need to get to so I can play with the top guys,” he said. “When I compete well with them, it still shows me what I need to do to improve my game.

“It’s a big change. The balls are a lot harder. You play high nationally ranked players. They don’t care who you are or who you play for, they just want to go out and get the win.”

Nash thinks that Patrick has grown as a player since arriving at Iowa, even though it’s been less than a semester.

“He didn’t have any power, but he never missed balls,” Nash said. “We’ve challenged to go for bigger shots so guys can’t bully him on court. I’ve been pretty happy with him in practice.”

Estenssoro has also made strides for the Hawkeyes. The Bolivian has already doubled his number of singles wins to four this season.  He believes that being in the United States for a full year has helped him on and off the court.

“Everything was new the first year,” he said. “I couldn’t handle the pressure. Through the times, I’ve gained a lot of experience.”

The sophomore stayed over the summer to practice with the coaching staff, which helped him build his relationship with the coaches while improving for the next season.

“He’s matured. He’s not as up and down in practice,” Nash said. “He’s matured into handling the daily grind of collegiate tennis.”

Nash is excited about the team competing in a tournament that attracts a lot of the competition Iowa could face in the spring. Subsequently, this weekend and next weekend’s Big Ten singles tournament are opportunities to build momentum for 2013.

“What you’ll find is that in this tournament and Big Ten singles is that [players who are successful] do well in the spring,” he said.

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