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Hawks set to host a pair of ranked opponents

BY DOMINICK WHITE | APRIL 12, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa’s men’s tennis team will be host to two conference opponents this weekend at the Hawkeye Recreation and Tennis Complex. Its first meet is against the No. 48 ranked Michigan State Spartans today at 2pm. The Hawkeyes will follow up their meet with the Spartans by taking on the No. 24 ranked Michigan Wolverines on Sunday.

The weather for this weekend may keep the Hawkeyes indoors, though. Today’s forecast shows temperatures in the mid 40’s while Sunday’s forecast shows a chance of rain in the late morning and early afternoon.

Iowa has shown the ability to compete with some of the best teams in the country, but still struggles against higher-level teams. Every player in the Hawkeyes lineup has won a match against an opponent from a ranked team at some point this season, yet, the Hawkeyes have struggled to turn those individual efforts into one complete team performance.

“I think everyone just needs to focus and do their jobs,” Iowa captain Garret Dunn said. “I think once we get all our guys clicking, and have everybody trust that everyone else is going to do their job it’ll be a lot easier for individuals to focus on what they need to do in their own match.”

One way the Hawkeyes can improve their performance against ranked opponents is by bringing more energy to the courts at the beginning of meets. Iowa recently dug itself into early holes in meets against Purdue and Indiana and weren’t able to recover.

“I think we had a slow beginning last weekend, especially in singles,” Iowa junior Juan Estenssoro said. “We started most of the matches down 3-0 and that ended up making the difference. We just have to be ready to play and give 100%.”

The Hawkeyes will need to get off to a quick start in both meets this weekend, as they’ll be facing stiff competition. Michigan State comes into today’s meet playing its best tennis of the year. The Spartans have won two of their last three meets, with big wins over nationally ranked Purdue and Northwestern.

The Michigan Wolverines currently sit in second place in the Big Ten standings. They have 6-1 conference record and a pair of ranked singles players. Blue and Maize senior Evan King is the No. 13 ranked player in the country and he’s one of the best singles players the Hawkeyes will face all season.

The Hawkeyes are still vying for their first Big Ten win of the season. They’ll need to play with more energy and a complete team effort in order to pick up a coveted conference win.

“These are two more really good Big Ten teams,” Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said. “We’ll have a work cut out for us. One of these days we’ll put it all together in order to have a chance to win and I think it could be this weekend.”


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