Hallestrand moving up the ladder


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Last season, Iowa men’s tennis player Nils Hallestrand was the lone freshman on a team that included six seniors and two juniors.

A year later, as a sophomore, he stands as one of the more seasoned players on a talented but young and inexperienced roster.

“I think my role on the team has gone from being a young freshman to pretty much a veteran, considering the young team we have this year,” he said.

In his freshman season, the 6-5 Hallestrand went 5-2 in dual singles competition, posting an 0-1 record in Big Ten play. In doubles, he compiled a 5-1 record, winning his only match in the Big Ten.

Hallestrand’s early success came in the fifth and sixth slots in singles and the third slot in doubles — in layman’s terms, at the bottom of the lineup. But seeing any playing time on such an upperclassmen-heavy team was a promising sign for the native of Danderyd, Sweden.

“It’s going to be a pretty big leap for him,” senior Matt Hagan said. “He had an opportunity to play some Big Ten matches last year, so he knows how to play at a high level.”

After making the most of his opportunity last year, Hallestrand’s sophomore campaign promises to feature him in a more prominent role.

“There’s always more pressure knowing you’re playing for your school and teammates,” Hagan said. “This year, he understands what it’s like and how to win in the spring.”

Hagan played in 11 dual singles matches in the Big Ten his freshman year, compared with just one for Hallestrand. Still, the senior sees the potential for his teammate to have a breakout year.

“He’s brought his game to a different level this year,” Hagan said. “You can see it in practice; he’s close to breaking through.”

At the Purdue Invitational this past weekend, Hallestrand and freshman Jake Jacoby won the doubles Flight A consolation final, after a duo from Wisconsin-Green Bay withdrew from the match.

“Playing a lot over the summer helped when it comes to executing in tight moments,” Hallestrand said. “I think before I’d give up a couple of sloppy points, which put me in some tough situations.”

His demeanor has rubbed off on another lefty on the team — freshman Josh Silverstein.

“Nils is mature and seems more like an upperclassman than a sophomore,” Silverstein said. “He’s been guiding the younger guys on and off the court, not to mention he has that big lefty serve.”

Last fall during tournament play, Hallestrand finished with a record of 4-5 in singles and 5-5 in doubles. If his improvement from fall to spring last season is any indication, by the time dual play rolls around in January, Hallestrand should be firing on all cylinders.

“Apart from contributing as a leader, I expect to bring more on the court this year,” Hallestrand said. “I think my experience has given me a more competitive mindset.”

Follow @CharlsGreen on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s tennis team.

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