Hawkeyes pick up a nail-biting victory against Western Michigan
Deadlocked at 3-3, it was up to Iowa’s Jonas Dierckx to deliver a victory for the Hawkeyes.
Dierckx squared off against reigning MAC Player of the Week Ross VanderPloeg. The Lommel, Belgium, native opened up the match by taking the first set 6-4. VanderPloeg responded by winning the second set by the same score.
The Iowa junior took control of the match in the crucial third set by rallying back from a 4-2 deficit to force a 5-5 tie. The Hawkeye had his opponent in trouble after winning his service, facing match point. Dierckx’s teammates stormed the court to celebrate their sixth straight victory when VanderPloeg’s last attempt sailed into the net.
“It was the first time I had to play a deciding match,” Dierckx said. “It was something new and exciting. I was nervous at first, but I was able to handle it.”
Iowa’s 4-3 win over Western Michigan on Sunday started off similar to every other tennis meet for the Hawkeyes this season. Iowa began the meet by picking up a point in doubles play. Juan Estenssoro and Joey White made quick work of their opponents, sweeping the match by a score of 8-0.
Matt Hagan and Dierckx defeated their opponents handily by a count of 8-2. Garret Dunn and Michael Swank fought hard in their match but ultimately came up short, falling 8-6.
The rowdy Hawkeye fans created a difficult environment for the Broncos to play in. The Western Michigan players were clearly bothered by the crowd noise.
“I thought the crowd was awesome,” Dunn said. “Ideally we want people to come out and be that loud every match. The fans were the best part about today’s meet.”
That crowd fueled Dunn and Estenssoro to victories. Dunn started off playing point for point with opponent Ruben Greiner until he broke Greiner’s service to take a 6-5 lead. Dunn closed out the first set with a pair a of whopping serves to win the set 7-5. Dunn never looked back, and his momentum carried over to the second set for a 6-4 victory.
Estenssoro engaged in an intense battle with Bronco senior Aaron Wong. Iowa’s junior transfer started off winning the first set, 6-3. Wong, however, proved to be a pesky opponent and won the second set tie-breaker, 7-6.
Estenssoro, with the crowd at his back, dug deep to grind out a heated third set. In the end, Estenssoro hit too many cross-court winners for Wong to handle and he won the decisive set, 6-3.
“This was clearly our best performance of the year because it’s the best team we’ve played so far,” Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said. “The dramatic fashion the meet ended in makes it extra special, and it gives the team a lot of confidence.”
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