Hawkeye tennis passes season's first test


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The tension in the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Com;plex on Feb. 1 was palpable. A low roar arose from the crowd after each point was decided. Iowa led the Bradley Braves 3-2 with two singles matches left. It was up to Michael Swank and freshman Dominic Patrick to secure a win for the Hawkeyes.

Patrick and Swank were pushed to a third set in their matches after dropping the second set. Swank was down 0-2 in the third set of his match until he broke his opponent’s serve twice. Swank didn’t look back as he went on to win the pressure-filled match (7-5, 2-6, 6-3). His win clinched a 5-2 victory for the Hawkeyes.

“I like the pressure,” Swank said. “I’ve always been into the big moment with everyone watching. It’s nice to get the crowd a little rowdy and have a match really means something.”

After dropping the second set, Swank said, the key to his match was keeping a level head and trusting his game. Patrick rebounded well after losing the second set in his match by winning the third set handily. It was the freshman’s first win of the season.

Jonas Dierckx wasted no time in his first singles match of the day, dominating his opponent as he went on to win in straight sets (6-1, 6-2). In fact, Dierckx’s match was over before some matches had started its second set.

“I just wanted to end the match as quick as possible,” the native of Lommel, Belgium, said. “I knew it was going to be a long day, so I played really aggressively and tried to avoid long points.”

His quick first match wound up paying off later in the day. Dierckx had a challenging match in the nightcap of the double-header against Western Illinois’ Bradley Holt, the reigning Summit League Player of the Week. Holt started off strong and put Dierckx in an early 0-3 hole. However, that didn’t faze Dierckx; he battled back to beat Holt in straight sets (7-5, 6-4).

Dierckx’s match was the closest one for Iowa during the nightcap of as the Hawks took care of business. The Hawkeyes defeated the Leathernecks with relative ease by a final score of 7-0, and nobody lost a set for the Hawkeyes.

Overall, it was a good day for Iowa’s men’s tennis — no Hawk finished his matche down worse than a count of 3-1. Sophomore Matt Hagan came back strong after his losses last week against Loyola Marymount by going 4-0. Additionally, Dierckx, Patrick and Swank finished the day undefeated.

The Hawkeyes were up to the task in this season’s first big challenge, and head coach Steve Houghton was satisfied with this team’s performance.

“I was pleased with our performance today,” Houghton said. “Bradley extended us, but I thought we played well under pressure when the match was close. It’s a challenge playing two meets in a row. We’ve never really done that before, so I thought we handled it very well by fighting off fatigue and performing at a high level.”

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