Jacoby, the athlete


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When Jake Jacoby told his Hawkeye tennis teammates he was an All-State soccer goalie in high school, they had trouble believing him. It wasn’t until various members of the team took shots against the former Pulaski Academy (Arkansas) goalkeeper that they were persuaded.

“I guess they had to see it to believe it,” Jacoby said. “I wasn’t diving or anything, so I wouldn’t get injured, but I think they saw that I could play.”

The Little Rock, Arkansas, native played three years of high school soccer in the state’s class 5A. He was named All-State his junior and senior season and helped his school to its first conference title since 2006.

“I joined my sophomore year because we didn’t have a backup goalie at the time,” Jacoby said. “I love soccer, and it was a great way to stay in shape in the off-season.”

Jacoby calls tennis his first love — the sport he has a passion for.

But in the midst of a surprisingly successful fall for the freshman, his acquired skills in the net are proving useful.

“As a goalie, you actually get to use your hands, and you need to react quickly,” Jacoby said. “So it helps with hand-eye coordination. And in both sports, you need to stay on the balls of your feet and be ready for any shot.”

Jacoby’s time as a soccer player also gave his vision a boost on the tennis court.

“It involves dealing with a lot of angles,” Jacoby said. “I can see angles on the court really well even when the ball takes a weird bounce or comes of the racket in an odd way.”

Although Jacoby drew interest from smaller schools to play soccer, the decision for him to come to Iowa for tennis was a no-brainer.

“I made it clear to my coaches I was a tennis player first, and everyone understood that,” Jacoby said. “I’ve always played as many sports as possible growing up; at one point, I think I was playing eight. But tennis is the only one I’ve loved to practice, and I think that’s why my parents and I knew it the right sport for me.”

With numerous accomplishments as a tennis player in high school leading to his status as a five-star recruit, Jacoby’s success in soccer still means a lot to the freshman.

“It was rewarding because it taught me that if I can work hard enough at anything I can succeed — even in a different sport,” he said.

Jacoby has impressed the Hawkeyes in both singles and doubles this year. He continued his success in doubles this past weekend at the Big Ten Singles/Doubles Tournament in Minneapolis with freshman Josh Silverstein. The pair reached the round of 16 before losing to Harry Jadun and John Patrick Mullane of Michigan State.

“You can see on the court how athletic Jake is,” Silverstein said. “I didn’t know at first he was a goalie, but when I found out, it made a lot of sense, because his reaction time is real good as well.”

“Good hand-eye coordination and quick off the first step,” junior Dominic Patrick said. “It helps him out a lot on the court.”

For interim coach Ross Wilson, athletic skills aren’t the only asset Jacoby acquired in his time on the soccer field.

“He’s a great competitor in a team environment,” Wilson said. “A lot of these guys come in, and they haven’t been part of successful teams coming into college. I think he competes very well for us when called upon.”

THIS WEEK: On Thursday, the men’s tennis team traveled to Flushing Meadows, New York, for the National Indoor Championships. The tournament will run through Nov. 9.

PREVIOUS COMPETITION: Senior Matt Hagan and junior Dominic Patrick won the doubles championship at the Big Ten Singles/ Doubles in Minneapolis. Freshman Josh Silverstein reached the semifinals of the singles main draw.

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