Hawkeyes pull off upset against Minnesota


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The Iowa men’s tennis team picked up its first Big Ten win in 1,051 days Sunday afternoon as it battled to a 4-3 win to upset No. 39 Minnesota in the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex. Iowa recorded its first Big Ten win since April 2, 2011, and ended a 15-year drought against the Gophers in the process.

The Hawkeyes improved to 5-0 overall this weekend after it defeated Northern Illinois in solid fashion, 5-2, on Feb. 14.

“I wasn’t sure if we were up to the task,” head coach Steve Houghton said. “It was a big jump we made. Northern Illinois was good preparation for this match, but it means a lot more to beat Minnesota.”

The only disappointment the 33-year head coach said he had in the meet was that he didn’t get to experience the traditional Gatorade shower that often follows a meaningful win. He said even contemplated dumping the bucket of Gatorade over himself.

“It was a great team win and it really reflects all the hard work,” Houghton said. “We just worked like crazy. This is the hardest I can ever remember our team working and they deserve a big win like this.”

The Hawkeyes started the day out strong, winning the doubles point 2-1 to give them the edge heading into singles play.

Freshman Nils Hallestrand and senior Joey White recorded the first doubles victory of the day, beating Eric Frueh and Juan Ramirez of Minnesota, 8-3. The No. 1 doubles duo of seniors Michael Swank and Brian Alden fell, 8-4, leaving the fate of the doubles point to seniors Juan Estenssoro and Jonas Dierckx in the No. 2 spot. In a close finish, Estenssoro and Dierckx delivered a 7-6 (7-4( win over Franz Sydow and Leandro Toledo.

The Hawkeyes kept the momentum going in singles play. The crowd was kept on their feet as both teams battled their way in close match after close match. Both teams tied in singles play, 3-3, with Hawkeye victories coming from sophomore Dominic Patrick (6-3, 1-6, 6-2), Estenssoro (6-4, 7-5), and Swank (6-3, 6-7 [3-7], 6-3).  

“It means a lot to us and especially the guys that I came to [Iowa] with,” Swank said. “Our freshman year, we didn’t contribute a whole lot to the team and that was the last time we had a Big Ten win, so to come out like this and the hard work we have put in really paid off.”

Estenssoro was a key player in the Hawkeyes win over Minnesota, helping secure the doubles victory as well as clinching the overall win of the meet with his singles match.

“I was tired and I ran a lot, but at one point those tired feelings in my legs just went away,” he said. “After Swank won I knew we were 3-2 down. I knew I had to clinch this match and fortunately things went really well.” Estenssoro said.

Houghton hopes this win will give his team a spark for the rest of the season.

“I told the guys to take this as an opportunity and to know that we are a good team,” Houghton said. “And today we proved that we are.”

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