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Men’s tennis team faces road challenge this weekend

BY BLAKE DOWSON | JANUARY 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team will take its 2-0 record to the snowy Northeast this weekend to play Cornell today and Yale on Saturday.

Interim head coach Ross Wilson said he is excited about the challenge that the two teams pose.

“Both teams are always ranked, and it will be a good way to see how we stack up,” Wilson said. “It’ll be a good meter to see where we are at as a team.”

Cornell is ranked 65th in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top 75, holding the ranking since the beginning of the year.

The Big Red are 1-3 in the early part of its stout nonconference season, beating Texas-San Antonio and dropping matches to Rice, Indiana, and Denver.

Rice, Indiana, and Denver are ranked 75th, 53rd, and 63rd.

Wilson said playing at a place such as Cornell would be a good experience for his team.

“There are always a lot of people at those matches,” he said. “It gets loud in there, and our guys will have to respond,” 

Playing on the road for the first time this season, Wilson wants players to take leadership roles; he said junior Dom Patrick and senior Andres Estenssoro are typically the guys.

“Dom and Andres do a good job making sure the guys are ready to go,” he said. “Josh Silverstein also does a good job getting the team fired up, which is rare for a freshman to step up like that.”

Senior Matt Hagan said he is excited about his team’s first big test of the year.

“[Playing matches such as this] gives you a good idea of where the team is at early in the year,” he said. “It would be pretty awesome to beat Cornell and gain some momentum.”

After struggling in the early parts of the match against Western Michigan on Sunday, Wilson said, he wants the team to play well early this weekend.

“I think doubles points are going to be key, especially the first 10 minutes,” he said. “We were nervous in the first 10 minutes against Western Michigan, and we came out a little slow.”

Wilson said it is crucial to take control of the match early and try to handle the emotion of playing on the road at a place such as Cornell.

With four freshmen traveling for their first road matches of the season, there are a significant number of unknowns surrounding the team.

“With the freshmen, you never know until you’re there,” Wilson said. “They want to win, and they work really hard, that’s the big thing.”

The early road matches are an opportunity to gauge where the freshmen are at in their development, he said.

Hagan said it will be interesting to see how the freshmen respond on the road, and the key to any road match is to compete hard.

Besides the freshmen, Wilson said, he believes the tough road test will benefit the team as a whole.

“I scheduled Cornell and Yale because we needed some tough matchups before we get into conference play,” he said. “The Big Ten is really tough, and we need to be used to that level of competition when we get there.”

Hagan acknowledged that there are always ups and downs during the course of the season, but it is important to gain mental toughness early on the road.

“It’s super early in the year, but matches like this are really important to gain momentum for conference play,” he said.

Follow @B_Dows4 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s tennis team.


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