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Patrick aces the season

BY JORDAN BUCHER | APRIL 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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Dominic Patrick’s decision to become a Hawkeye has paid dividends for him and the team, and it all started with the tennis prodigy’s whim of an email.

“I emailed [head coach Steve] Houghton and a few other Big Ten schools on a whim, and it took off from there,” said Patrick, a native of Gilbert, Ariz. “I thought the academics were good and loved the campus and the team. We have made it a long way from where we started.”

Over the course of the past year, the sophomore has seen tremendous improvement in his game and has established himself as a key player for the Hawkeyes.

Patrick leads the team in singles wins, posting a 14-6 record so far this season. Close behind him is Iowa’s top-rated singles player, senior Jonas Dierckx, who has compiled 12 wins.

It hasn’t always been picture-perfect for Patrick, who experienced his fair share of ups and downs during his first year in the program, as most freshmen do. He primarily played at the No. 5 singles position, recording a 15-18 record in his first season.

“Dominic has really improved this semester. He has been really going for his shots this season, and it took him a few wins to realize how good of a player he actually is,” Dierckx said. “He has put a lot of wins on the board for us already, and that’s not an easy thing to do as a sophomore.

“We all knew what he was capable of by the way he played in practice. His problem was that he didn’t play the same way in matches.”

That has no longer been the case for Patrick, who has delivered on several occasions for the Hawkeyes this year. He credits much of his success this season to Iowa’s new assistant coach, Ross Wilson, who has brought a new style of play and a more “tennis-focused” mindset to the Hawkeye program.

“It has a lot to do with taking what Coach Wilson says, his view on the game, and adapting to the way he wants me to play,” Patrick said. “He was successful as a player, so if we take what he has to say and put it in action, it will give us a chance to be successful.”

His success this season hasn’t gone unnoticed by his family. Despite being 1,500 miles away from home, he has a solid fan base for every one of his home matches — his grandparents, Bill and Shirley Patrick. Patrick’s grandparents attended all three of Iowa’s home meets last week. The two-hour drive from Rochelle, Ill. is well worth it for them and for Dominic Patrick, who refers to them as his good-luck charms.

In Patrick’s singles win against Indiana on April 6, Shirley Patrick was seen crossing her fingers in a tight third set tiebreaker, which he clinched, 10-7, to win the match.

In the last home meet of the season, against Northwestern on Sunday, the kind-spirited couple came decked out in Iowa gear and showed their youthful side by sporting thick, bright yellow Hawkeye sweatbands across their foreheads — the kind tennis players wear in their matches.

“We love being able to come over and watch him play,” Bill Patrick said. “He’s a great kid, and we are a close family that always stays in contact. A little family always helps in matches.”

For Dominic Patrick, it means the world to have his good-luck charms there to see him play — and win.

“It’s awesome to have them here,” Patrick said. “They didn’t get to see me grow up and play, but now they get to see the finished result, which is special.”


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