Hawkeye men's tennis ready for Big Ten Tourney


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Iowa’s men’s tennis team will be in Columbus, Ohio today to compete in the 2013 Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes, the Big Ten regular season champs, are hosting this year’s tournament at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center.

The top-four teams from the Big Ten regular season’s standings — Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois — all get first round byes in the event. There are four meets in the event’s opening round.

The first meet of the tournament will take place at 9am when No. 8 seed Wisconsin takes on No. 9 seed Purdue. Afterwards the No. 12 seeded Hawkeyes will take on No. 5 seed Northwestern in second meet of the competition at 11am.

No. 7 Michigan State will then battle the No. 10 seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers at 1:30 pm, followed by the final meet of the day where No. 6 Indiana squares off against No. 11 Penn State at 4pm.

The twelfth-seeded Hawkeyes enter the Big Ten Tournament still in search of their first conference victory. The Black and Gold’s opening round matchup against the No. 5 seed Northwestern Wildcats will present quite the challenge.

The Wildcats thumped the Hawkeyes 7-0 in their previous meeting in Evanston on March 10. Iowa’s men’s tennis team will need a complete team effort in order to take down an opponent that’s ranked among the top-50 in the country.

“We all have to play well on the same day,” Iowa junior Jonas Dierckx said. “We’ve had success in different spots on different days but as a team we haven’t been on top of our games on the same day. It’s hard to win a Big Ten meet playing like that.”

The Hawkeyes were succumbing to lineup issues in their first go-around with Northwestern, causing some distress, and was perhaps the reason the Black and Gold got blanked. Iowa head coach Steve Houghton feels his team has made considerable strides since that matchup.

“We are playing a team that we’ve played before so that could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it,” Houghton said. “Our guys have nothing to lose at this point. Northwestern beat us pretty decisively the first time but we are playing much better since we played them on March 10th. I just think we’ve improved a lot in those six weeks.”

The Hawkeyes will need to bring their best to Columbus, Ohio if they want to pick up a surprising win over the No. 37 ranked Wildcats. Pulling off an upset victory over the Wildcats might likely be pegged as the highlight of Iowa’s season.

“It’s a major accomplishment if you can do well in the Big Ten tournament,” Iowa sophomore Matt Hagan said. “It’s kind of like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, there are a lot of upsets and anyone can beat anyone if they’re playing well.”

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