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Men's tennis hosts 2 duals

BY JORDAN BUCHER | FEBRUARY 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team has a busy weekend ahead of it, hosting Northern Illinois at 6 p.m. today and Minnesota at noon Feb. 16. Both duals will take place in the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

The Hawkeyes enter this weekend undefeated, sweeping every opponent they’ve faced so far.

Iowa posted its third-consecutive sweep of the year Tuesday afternoon against Missouri-Kansas City to improve 3-0 overall. Senior Jonas Dierckx has posted six-straight doubles victories since the fall. This season, Dierckx pairs with senior Juan Estenssoro in the No. 1 spot in doubles. The two are 2-0 for the season.

Nils Hallestrand, the only Hawkeye freshman, is now 2-0 in singles play and 3-0 in doubles. 

So far, it has been pretty easy going for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has coasted its way to three sweeps in as many outings, but it will face tough competition in the matches coming up. Iowa will have to be on the very top of its game in both matches this weekend if it wishes wish to pull off a win.

“We know they’re going to be tough,” Dierckx said. “But the thing we need now is to just play a lot of matches.”

Northern Illinois is 6-2, with both of its losses coming at the hands of nationally ranked teams. Alex Lagerlof of Northern Illinois upset No. 80 Sven Lalic of No. 57 Indiana in No. 1 singles. The Huskies ultimately fell to the Hoosiers 5-2 with all the matches decided in narrow margins.

The Hawkeyes will have short recovery before they take on No. 39 Minnesota, 4-4 overall. The Gophers dropped a pair of duals last weekend against Tulsa and Harvard. In No. 2 singles play, Minnesota’s Ruben Weber defeated No. 81 Shaun Chaudhuri of Harvard in straight sets.

Minnesota will be the Hawkeyes’ first conference matchup of the season. The Hawkeyes are one of two teams in the Big Ten this year that do not possess a national ranking. Iowa has not won a conference match in the past two years, but senior Michael Swank is confident that this is the year to end the drought.

“It’s always hard to tell until you’re there, but honestly this is the most confident that I feel about our team,” Swank said. “We have some guys who are still not 100 percent healthy, but we have the best opportunity to win the most matches in the Big Ten since I’ve been here this year.”

Iowa has an unusual schedule this year and will not take on another conference foe until March 23.

“We like to play some teams that can help get some confidence going early in the season and build on from there,” head coach Steve Houghton said. “But you also don’t want to have a false sense of security about what’s going to come later on.

“Northern Illinois is a very good team, and Minnesota has been one of the better teams in the Big Ten the past several years. I was happy with the way we played against Missouri-Kansas City but know that we have some challenges ahead.”


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