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Men's tennis ready to find new talent

BY JACK ROSSI | NOVEMBER 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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With the end of the fall season for the Iowa men’s tennis team in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to recruit various high-school seniors from around the country and the world to come to Iowa.

The tennis team has the tough task of replacing a lot of leadership on a team that has six seniors, but assistant coach Ross Wilson thinks they might want to bring in fewer than that.

“We’re looking to bring in three to four players for next fall,” Wilson said. “I think that having eight players total helps us out just because we can give guys a little bit more individual work. We can really go after the best players and give them the best scholarship offers instead of spreading it out among 10 guys.”

But the team will have to plan on key players to step up and overcome adversity first when they go from the oldest team in the Big Ten to one of the youngest.

“It’s going to be tough. I mean, we are probably the most experienced team in the Big Ten this year. We have guys who have played in the most number of Big Ten matches,” Wilson said. “We are hoping that the underclassmen, junior Matt [Hagan] and junior Andres [Estenssoro], will step it up this year and take on that leadership role when they are seniors next year with all of the new recruits.”

They have also tweaked their style of recruiting this year in hopes that they will be able to land higher-ranked recruits.

“Right now, we are looking at the top-30 juniors in the country who are seniors,” Wilson said. “We are recruiting all of those guys. We are looking to recruit guys that are top 200 in the ITF world rankings. We are really looking for guys who love the game, who want to train, and put the time in on the court during the season.”

The main thing for the team is that it is searching for players who want to continue with tennis past the collegiate level. Summer tournaments help these players prepare for the next level.

A lot of players found Iowa through various connections that they had with head coach Steve Houghton.

“It goes back pretty far for me,” senior Michael Swank said. “In high school, I had a couple coaches who played at Iowa. They talked up Iowa to me … Once I started having correspondence with Coach with email and phone calls, I realized how good of a guy he was, and it was a good fit for me.”

Because Houghton does not fly, it is a little more difficult for him to attract recruits from overseas. Senior Jonas Dierckx also found Iowa through Houghton’s international reach.

“Coach knew a guy who graduated here, and that was a guy that played on the same team as my coach back home,” Dierckx said. “That’s how we got in touch. I never saw Coach until I got here. I called a lot and messaged a lot but never went on a recruiting trip.”


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