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Iowa men's tennis heads to Tulsa for ITA regionals

BY JACK ROSSI | OCTOBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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After little success at last year’s regional tournament, the Iowa men’s tennis team will try to bounce back this year with a new assistant coach and offensive scheme.

Coming off of a short week, the team left early Wednesday morning to travel to Tulsa, Okla., to begin the Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional tournament. The Hawkeyes expect to see all the teams from the central region, including such top-25 teams as Tulsa and Oklahoma along with a few stiff SEC teams.

The team would also like to get some victories over a tough in-state rival in Drake.

“It will be a really good field,” head coach Steve Houghton said. “It’s the best players in our region. Oklahoma is a good national team. So are Tulsa, Nebraska, and others. It will be a really solid field,”
The last time at the tournament, the Hawkeyes struggled, and the only bright spot came from now senior Jonas Dierckx. He finished the tournament by falling in the singles round of 16.

“We had a couple good fall performances last year but, I don’t think that [tournament] was one of them,” Houghton said.

But this year is setting up to be much different for them.

Dierckx and fellow teammate junior Matt Hagan have already qualified, and the other eight will have to earn their spots.

“It’s going to be tough,” Houghton said. “I think they’re each going to have to win three matches; at least two to make it into the main draw.”

The team also has a lot of momentum after having some breakthrough wins at the Wake Forest Invitational.

Junior Matt Hagan defeated the No. 2 seed Anthony Delcore in the tournament, and two of the team’s seniors, Dierckx and Juan Estenssorro, notched wins against Penn State’s top player.

“[Delcore] is actually a good friend from my hometown,” Hagan said. “We have always been close. It was good to get that win for bragging rights.”

Hagan also believes that confidence is key for him personally and his teammates as they adapt to the new style of play.

“I just want to keep progressing,” he said. “I want to feel confident in my game.”

“I thought that guys are starting to play more the style we want,” Houghton said. “Meaning, be aggressive. Guys have actually seen success in doing something new … in terms of wins and losses.”

With a short week at hand, fatigue does not seem to be much of a factor. In fact, assistant coach Ross Wilson thinks that this is a positive for the team moving forward into the tournament.

“I actually think this will be good,” he said. “It’s kind of nice that the guys are used to competing and they’re in that mode. We were gone last weekend, then they had Monday off to relax and Tuesday practice, then Wednesday we were back at it so, I think it’s good mentally. We don’t want to lose that focus and intensity, and we keep pushing on.”

Wilson has his own experiences at Tulsa as a player at Ohio State — most notably his senior year.

“I played the ITA All-Americans there my senior year where my partner and I were the No. 1 seed,” Wilson said.

The coaches are bringing the entire team to the tournament in hopes of getting tough matchups to gain experience.

“Most of them [top 25 teams] are sending their top guys. We are sending everybody from No. 1 to No. 10,” Houghton said. “We will have some tough matchups all over the place but really get experience, and that’s all a part of the building process.”


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