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Hawkeye men's tennis set to take on Penn State

BY DOMINICK WHITE | MARCH 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Hawkeyes are set to compete against Penn State today at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex at 2 p.m.

Iowa’s men’s tennis team enters today’s match with newfound confidence after a relatively successful spring trip. The Hawkeyes began to struggle during the end of February and early March after a hot start to the season. The Black and Gold were defeated in five consecutive dual meets until they picked up a win against perennial powerhouse Fresno State.

“We played very well against Fresno State,” head coach Steve Houghton said. “They may be down a little bit this year, but in general, they’re a good national team. So it’s a really good win for us, maybe our best of the year.”

Houghton tinkered with his lineup over the past few weeks — due, in some part, to Matt Hagan’s sprained knee. The injury appears to be minor, and the sophomore is expected to be in action this weekend.

Additionally, the Hawkeyes don’t have a set No. 6 singles player, causing Houghton to rotate three different players through the last lineup spot. 

“It’s Coach’s decision, he doesn’t have a set No. 6 position,” junior Andres Estenssoro, one of those rotated athletes, said. “He’s going to switch the lineup depending on the meet, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and how well we practice.”

The junior didn’t receive a lot of playing time in the early portions of the season. However, he’s recently been given an opportunity to crack the lineup and has been thriving at the No. 6 position. The Bolivia native won his final two matches during Iowa’s spring trip against two teams that have flirted with national rankings this season.

“I didn’t do anything big,” Estenssoro said. “I just played a lot of balls. I play better outdoors so the game slowed down for me and I can grind out points.”

The Hawkeyes gained some valuable experience playing outdoor matches over the spring break. Outdoor courts are a little slower compared to indoor courts and it takes players time to adjust to playing on a new surface.

The Hawkeyes could play outdoors this weekend depending on the weather conditions. It has to be above 50 degrees with wind blowing under 15 mph in order for a tennis meet to be played outside.

Today’s matchup with the Nittany Lions will mark the third Big Ten meet for the Hawkeyes. Penn State comes into today’s meet with an overall mark of 6-10 and they’re 0-3 in conference play — Iowa is also winless in conference play.

The Hawkeyes hope the momentum gained in their spring trip carry them to their first Big Ten win of the season.   

“During spring trip we are playing nonconference matches that don’t count against our conference record, so it’s good practice for the outdoor matches we’ll see during Big Ten matches,” Iowa captain Garret Dunn said. “I think the spring trip was a good starter for the Big Ten season.”


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