Men's tennis set to compete at Wake Forest Invitational

BY JACK ROSSI | OCTOBER 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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With a rested squad, head coach Steve Houghton is ready to face the challenges this weekend at the Wake Forest Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C. The tournament will take place today through Oct. 13 and mark the midway point in the fall season.

This is the team’s first tournament since the Purdue Invitational on Sept. 22 and the first team competition for senior Jonas Dierckx, who played in the All-American tournament on Sept. 30.

The focus this week in preparation has been not to settle for mediocrity. Houghton believes the team has made great strides so far, but he wants the players to keep their feet on the pedal and not let up.

“We started off kind of slow this week … The coaches woke us up a little bit,” Dierckx said.

“We needed to take a step or two back and actually work on some things rather than prepare for a tournament at the end of the week,” Houghton said.  “Actually, we were able to institute some more things with guys that aren’t necessarily comfortable yet.”

There have been a lot of changes made thus far, and it is important for the players to step out of their comfort zone to adapt to these changes so that they are ready for Big Ten play.

“It is always pulling teeth to get people to get out of their comfort zone and know that, in the end, they will have to play a certain way that maybe is not their best way right now,” Houghton said.

The week without a tournament has, the coaches hope, given the players enough time to get used to the changes because the competition at Wake Forest is expected to be much better than what they have seen so far this season. Most, if not all, of the teams they will be playing will be brand-new to them.

“I expect to see better teams [this weekend] for sure. Purdue had plenty of good teams, but this will most likely be a level up from that,” Houghton said. “These are Southern teams that are usually particularly good.”

“We are ready [for the competition]. We are excited to go somewhere that we have never been before.”

Senior Brian Alden played a year at Florida State and is familiar with the high level of competition they will be facing.

“There’s going to be a lot good teams there,” Dierckx said.

“ACC teams, teams I am familiar with,” Florida State transfer Brian Alden said. “So it should be good competition.”

One of the factors that the team has been working with all week has been the heavy winds. The Hawkeyes believe that gives them an advantage, because the tournament will be held outdoors.

“The conditions have been pretty hard because of the wind,” Dierckx said. “We’ve had to adjust to that.”

Houghton, who left for the tournament earlier this week, said the whole team is scheduled to go, but he has been keeping an eye on senior Joey White.

“Joey, I’m not sure if he’s going to go,” the coach said. “He has a bit of an injury problem, and we will have to see what he will be like.”

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