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Hawkeyes drop another close one

BY JORDAN BUCHER | APRIL 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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It was close but no cigar for the Iowa men’s tennis team when it took on No. 66 Nebraska at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex on Wednesday afternoon. The band Pretty Blue Lies greeted the crowd by performing live at the start of the meet.

The Hawkeyes dropped their seventh-consecutive contest, 4-3, in a match that lasted just over four hours. It was a battle the whole way through beginning with doubles play.

The Hawkeyes didn’t have the start they wanted, dropping the doubles point in a pair of close matches. The No. 1 duo, featuring seniors Brian Alden and Michael Swank, rallied from a three-game deficit but ultimately fell, 8-6, to Nebraska’s Brandon Videtich and Bradford Zitsch.

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On the following court, the doubles team of senior Jonas Dierckx and junior Matt Hagan led 5-2, but couldn’t hold off Nebraska’s No. 2 pair of Dusty Boyer and Marc Herrmann, who bounced back to win 8-6, securing the doubles point for the Huskers. The doubles point, once again, proved costly in the Hawkeyes’ defeat.

Iowa gained some momentum in singles play, going back and forth with Nebraska match after match. Alden secured the first win for Iowa, edging out Herrmann of Indiana at the No. 2 position. The same didn’t hold true for Dierckx, who suffered 6-3, 6-4 loss to Boyer at No. 1. Hagan rallied his way to 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 4 spot, while Swank dropped his match (6-4, 6-4) at No. 6.

The stadium lights were shining bright over Klotz Tennis Courts as the final two matches were wrapping up. With the Huskers leading 3-2, Iowa had to win both to win the match.  Sophomore Dominic Patrick, playing at No. 5, dropped his first set 6-1, but bounced back in a 6-3 win in the second set to force the match into a third set. Patrick won that set, 6-4, recording his 14th win and tying the match at 3.

Hawkeye Juan Estenssoro is used to closing out most meets with his style of play consisting of long rallies, but this time his match carried added weight.

“I was thinking the team deserved to win, and if I didn’t fight back, we wouldn’t have a chance to win,” Estenssoro said. “So, pretty much I was thinking all about the team.”

Estenssoro battled his way back after falling, 6-1, in the first set to win, 7-6 (7-3), in the second.

“It was coming down the stretch there, and Patrick and Estenssoro battled back,” assistant coach Ross Wilson said. “We needed both of those matches to win, and I thought they handled that moment and pressure very well to give us a chance to win, especially Juan.”

The match went into the third set that kept fans on the edge of their seats. Estenssoro ultimately fell, 6-3, giving Nebraska the victory.

“The effort was very good in singles, and overall we are snakebitten in terms of these close 4-3 decisions in Big Ten matches,” head coach Steve Houghton said. “The scores don’t reflect how far we’ve come as a team. We’ve been playing very good tennis.”

The Hawkeyes have a quick turnaround, hosting No. 11 Illinois on Friday at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex. The first serve is set to begin at 3 p.m.

“It will certainly require our guys to play at a relatively high level to make that [win] happen, but the confidence is there,” Houghton said.


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