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Iowa men's tennis report card

BY JACK ROSSI | OCTOBER 31, 2013 5:00 AM

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Head coach Steve Houghton and Company have played two months of nonstop tennis with tournaments just about every weekend. It is coming up on 800 days since the Hawkeyes last won a Big Ten match, and the six seniors on the team are eager to break that streak.

The help of new assistant coach Ross Wilson is working to transform the Hawkeyes into a legitimate team with his aggressive style of play. However, it will still be an uphill battle to bring Iowa to the forefront.

Now that we have seen a glimpse of the team, we can evaluate singles and doubles play as well as the team’s most improved players and MVPs so far.

Singles

The focus so far this year has been in singles and the expectation is to keep improving. Wilson has been working hard with the team to find a style of play that maximizes the potential of each player. Along with that style, a new mentality — a no nonsense mentality — that is intense and effective.

So far, the team is looking much better than last season. It has been able to somewhat consistently upset good players, and that’s a good step but not quite where the Hawks want to be.

After a few tweaks to his game, junior Matt Hagan has been making great strides. He has been one of Iowa’s top players so far. His breakthrough match came at the Wake Forest Invitational where he defeated the No. 2 seed.

Sophomore Dominick Patrick finished the season with the most single victories on the year with seven.

But the players need to capitalize on leads. There have been far too many matches that have been lost when a Hawkeye was leading part way through.

“We just have to keep at it … the guys have put in a good effort and are willing to be coached,” Wilson said.

Nevertheless, consistency is still key for this veteran Hawkeye team to succeed in the spring. Nothing will help that more than to keep playing matches this offseason.

Doubles

With all this focus on singles, there is not much time to work on doubles and the results have been all the proof we need.

The Hawks ended the season 13-19 in doubles out of 10 groups.

The Hawkeyes have only registered one doubles win in the last two tournaments. These do not include the consolation brackets that players are placed into once they lose.

“Over these next two months, we will definitely focus more on doubles,” Wilson said. “That will have to be a strong point if we are going to be successful.”

There have been times where doubles has shown its potential. Last year, the team’s strength was its doubles. The Hawkeyes had success in Big Ten by winning five doubles points. A lot of tall players with big serves will also help the cause.

Most Improved Player: Matt Hagan

The one person who has arguably gained the most from the hiring of Wilson has been Hagan. He seems to fit in exactly the kind of play style that Wilson is instituting.

He is a tall guy with a big serve and he has made the most out of his opportunities.

He started off a little slow but has picked up his game especially at the Wake Forest Invitational and regional tournament.

At the regional tournament, Hagan won his way into the main draw by before falling to the No. 2 seed from Ohio State in the second round.

“He’s really buying into this idea of having to play aggressive and it’s working out for him pretty well,” Houghton said.

Fall Season MVP: Jonas Dierckx

The obvious choice for the award, Dierckx has once again cemented himself as Iowa’s top player.

His play over the fall has been nothing short of great. Dierckx was the only player representing Iowa at the ITA All-American tournament earlier this year. He was put in the pre-qualifying bracket and made it to the round of 64 in that bracket.

He is consistently found in the round of 32 and round of 16 at almost all of the tournament Iowa plays in.

Patrick believes that all the players should look up to Dierckx.

“He is the hardest worker out there. He is a role model that I think we should all look up to in terms of work ethic,” Patrick said.


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