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Doubles a mystery

BY CHARLIE GREEN | NOVEMBER 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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Senior Matt Hagan and junior Dominic Patrick are the most experienced players on the Iowa men’s tennis team, and it showed in their doubles championship at the Big Ten Tournament last week.

Hagan and Patrick defeated the Michigan State pairing of junior John Patrick Mullane and senior Harry Jadun, 8-4, to cap their championship run.

“They were making a ton of returns,” assistant coach Ty Schaub said. “They fit well together because they’re fairly different players, and they’re starting to fit together really well.”

But for all their experience, the two had only played together in a doubles match just once before Big Tens, an 8-7 loss at the Intercollegiate College Tennis Central Regionals on Oct. 10.

In addition, freshmen Jake Jacoby and Josh Silverstein reached the round of 16 last week, marking their second strong doubles performance in a major tournament this fall.

Yet despite the success coming from the two pairs, both coaches aren’t committed to any set lineup just yet.

“It’s a testament to how we play and train for doubles,” interim coach Ross Wilson said. “In our system, everyone knows where to hit the ball and where to cover. It gives us the ability to interchange guys and make it all work.”

Wilson liked what he saw from the conference-tournament winning pair even before the tournament, citing a combination of athleticism from Patrick and power from Hagan.

“They practiced a lot this summer on the doubles court with me,” said Wilson. “It’s not easy to go out and win a tournament when you haven’t played a lot together, but I certainly believed they had the ability to do it.”

Even Hagan said he and Patrick compliment each other well.

“I’m a guy who serves big and Dom has good, solid volleys off the net,” Hagan said. “We didn’t play a traditional style — I stayed away, and he stayed at the net. But we played smart and both returned a lot of balls.”

A doubles lineup in dual play consists of three positions, meaning there is still plenty of time for the other four Hawkeyes on the spring roster to make a move.

“We can always change things up,” Schaub said. “We’ve seen a lot of combinations play well together in practice, and the season’s still a few months away.”

Wilson said, “Doubles is crazy, you never know who’s going to play with who. These guys have had good falls together. We’ll see come January what we want to do with our lineup.”

Patrick and Silverstein have had success has a pair, and coaches have liked what they’ve seen from Hagan and freshman Lefteris Theodorou in practice.

The solid play in the fall is a promising sign for a team to be competing in the Big Ten, a conference with no shortage of talent in doubles.

“The Big Ten has a lot of tough doubles teams in it,” Wilson said. “You look at Ohio State, which wins about 90 percent of their doubles points every year. They’re always tough.”

But Hagan and Patrick’s performance on Friday could foreshadow trouble for others in the Big Ten.

“I really feel like no one on this team is weak in doubles,” said Patrick. “As long as we go out and play hard, I think any combination gives us a good shot to win.”


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