Men's tennis to use winter break to build camaraderie for potential recruits


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Members of the Iowa men’s tennis team are not only planning on using winter break to train, they also want to get in touch with potential recruits.

For freshman Josh Silverstein, having a close relationship with his teammates creates a positive environment on and off the court.

“You don’t want to be on a great team with people you don’t like,” Silverstein said. “And you don’t want to be on a bad team with people you do like. Luckily, I have the best of both worlds.”

To keep this balance going, he plans on reaching out via Facebook to a number of high-schoolers who have showed interest during interim head coach Ross Wilson’s recruiting trip in Florida.

For the program, this practice is nothing new. Silverstein recalled what it meant for him to get to know the members of the Hawkeyes last year when he was still in high school. Although Wilson had him sold on the program, the players had him sold on the team.

“When [senior Matt] Hagan and others talked to me, I knew they were a group I wanted to spend the next few years with,” Silverstein said. “Now, we’re practically family.”

Iowa came into the fall with three freshmen, having graduated six seniors, and it faced the challenge of rebuilding team chemistry lost from years past.

The building began in the summer, when Hagan was traveling Europe. His last two days there were his to do with what he chose; he decided to meet up with incoming freshman Lefteris Theodorou in Athens, Greece.

“I didn’t really know him that well before,” Hagan said. “So getting that bond going before school and practice started was an awesome experience.”

It didn’t take a trip to Europe for other Hawkeyes to pitch in. Arizona native and junior Dominic Patrick stayed in Iowa City over the summer to build his relationship with interim coach Ross Wilson and emerge as a leader for his new teammates to follow.

“I came into the season knowing what kind of work ethic he expected from his players,” Patrick said. “It allows Ross to work with the young guys more and me to show the intensity for them to follow.”

The difficulty for the youngsters lies in the transition to the college game. While in high school, the top players compete in a more individually based environment. But come college, it’s about what each individual can do for the team.

Whatever vibes Hagan, Patrick, and other Hawkeyes left on the freshmen appear to be promising. Jake Jacoby and Silverstein looked like a formidable doubles pair in numerous tournaments, and both made strides in singles as well.

Theodorou was limited by mononucleosis and a minor shoulder injury, but showed enough potential to likely be a contributor in singles, doubles, or both come dual play in the spring.

Now, Silverstein and his fellow freshmen are trying to follow the lead of the team’s veterans.

“After my recruiting visit last year, the guys and I stayed in touch,” Silverstein said. “Now that I’m here, we spend a lot of time on and off the court together, and it’s helped us become really close. I love my teammates.”

After finishing with a singles semifinal run at the Big Ten Singles/Doubles tournament last month, Silverstein has learned important aspects of playing at the Division I level compared with his previous experiences.

“It’s all about trust,” Silverstein said. “If one of the older guys tells me something, I know they have my best interest in mind, and I know that because we’re so close.”

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

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