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Iowa men's tennis seeks seventh straight victory

BY DOMINICK WHITE | FEBRUARY 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team’s current win-streak sits at six tennis meets. Tonight’s match will give them the opportunity for seven straight when they take on the Drake Bulldogs at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

The Bulldogs present the Hawkeyes with their toughest challenge of the season. Drake enters tonight’s meet ranked 27th in the country with a 10-1 mark on the season. The Bulldogs have reeled off ten consecutive victories after losing their opening meet, including a 6-1 win over the Hawkeyes’ most recent opponent Western Michigan.

Drake is Iowa’s biggest in-state rival, since Iowa State doesn’t have a men’s tennis team. The Hawkeyes have won three out of the last five meets against the Bulldogs, but will be looking to avenge last season’s 7-0 beat down at the hands of the Blue and White.

“We play them every year,” Hawkeye captain Garret Dunn said. “At this point everyone has played each other, so there’s nothing we haven’t seen before against them. We’ll be fine as long as we play our game.”

Drake has a deep and experienced lineup. More than half of the Bulldog’s roster is upper classmen. Drake also features three players ranked in the nation’s top 125 singles players.

Senior Anis Ghorbel is ranked 49th in the country. The Tunisia native is the reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and boasts a 4-3 record in dual meets this season — each of his three losses have come against ranked opponents.

James McKie, ranked 96th in the country, is 8-1 on the season. Mckie won his first eight matches of the year until Western Michigan’s Nadin Indre ended his winning streak last Saturday. He’ll likely face Iowa junior Jonas Dierckx in tonight’s meet.

The last ranked Bulldog is sophomore Alen Salibasic. Salibasic posted an 18-3 singles mark en route to earning All-Missouri Valley Conference Honors during his freshman campaign. The sophomore is 8-2 on the season and he’ll likely face Juan Estenssoro.

“Drake is a pretty good team who is very deep,” Estenssoro said. “They are the two time defending Missouri Valley Conference champions. If we want to win we are going to have to play our best.”

The Hawkeyes have been playing well as of late. Iowa has picked up six consecutive victories and they’re playing with a lot of confidence. The Hawkeyes will need to keep their confidence level high as they look to pick up a marquee win tonight.

“They are a really solid team in terms of their doubles and singles play,” Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said. “Three of Drake’s top four players are seniors this season, so it is a big year for them. There’s a great opportunity for us to beat a good team.”


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