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Doubles picture taking shape for men’s tennis

BY CHARLIE GREEN | OCTOBER 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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Men’s tennis freshmen Josh Silverstein and Jake Jacoby have only been teammates for two months, but fans wouldn’t know it after their performance at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Tournament.

“It was our first tournament together, but we played well,” Jacoby said. “We kind of jibed as it went along.”

The duo won twice in the doubles main draw bracket two weekends ago, before being ousted by a pair from Minnesota in the quarterfinals.

“Jake and Josh gelled from the moment they stepped on the court together in practice,” head coach Ross Wilson said. “They’re smart, competitive, and they return a lot of balls. Their styles complement one another.”

For Wilson, fall play provides an opportunity to evaluate which players fit well together in doubles matches. Although that process is long and far from over, he is starting to get an idea of who may play together in the spring.

“In the fall, we’re not going to know who to pair up for sure,” Wilson said. “We’re just trying to work things out and see which guys work best together.”

Aside from the freshman duo, Wilson is also excited about prospect of pairing the team’s two most experienced players — junior Dominic Patrick and senior Matt Hagan.

“Dom’s a little more athletic, and Hagan’s got that knockout punch,” Wilson said.

The two got a shot at the regionals but were defeated (8-7) by a pair from Wichita State.

“I felt strong about their performance,” Wilson said. “If they had made it out of that match, I think they would have won a couple more.”

Hagan was optimistic about the performance, too.

“It was our first time playing together, so we’re still working out some stuff,” he said.

The senior knows as well as anyone that doubles requires a different approach and skills from singles.

“A lot of it is the camaraderie and chemistry between the guys,” Hagan said. “Both players need to be on the same page to have success.”

Doubles matches are played in just one set, whereas singles are played in three. This means the margin for error is smaller.

“It’s tough because it’s just that one set, a point can be won and lost in the first five minutes,” Wilson said. “That’s why it’s important for us to find the right combinations, and for those guys to know what they’re going to do out there.”

Patrick and Silverstein have also had success as a pair this fall, reaching the semifinals of the main draw in the black bracket at the Princeton Farnsworth Invitational last month.

But after their success at the regionals, Jacoby/Silverstein looks like the top pair for the Hawkeyes. Even more, Hagan was impressed because he said it takes some time for freshmen to get acquainted to doubles.

“It’s a lot faster, with quicker points and more volleys,” Jacoby said. “But I love playing doubles; it allows me to play more around the net.”

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


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