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Hagan proving he belongs with conference elites

BY BLAKE DOWSON | FEBRUARY 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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Matt Hagan swung, hit, and delivered a knockout blow to Wichita State and the best the Shockers had to offer.

Hagan, the No. 79 ranked player nationally, registered upset wins against the then-No. 20 ranked Wichita State doubles team and a match-clinching singles win against then-No. 38 ranked Tin Ostojic to move his singles record to 6-1.

The success of Hagan over the weekend earned the senior his first ever Big Ten Player Of The Week award, the first for a Hawkeye since Marc Bruche in 2011.

“Being a part of the conference for four years now really gives me perspective on how hard and talented the Big Ten really is,” Hagan said. “So to win this award really means a lot to me and it gives me a lot of confidence … it makes me feel that I can compete with anyone in the conference.”

Interim head coach Ross Wilson had high praise for Hagan.

“Matt is totally night and day from where he was last year,” Wilson said. “He’s putting in the time, and he’s getting results. He knows he can beat top-ranked guys, and [Feb. 20] was a great example of that.”

As far as how good he can be, assistant coach Ty Schaub said it is up to Hagan.

“I think he is a top-50 player in the country,” Schaub said. “But he has to prove it. He has learned to love the game, and it’s exciting to get results.”

Hagan, who typically teams up with junior Dom Patrick for doubles matches, played with freshman Lefteris Theodorou against the ranked Shockers.

“We had gotten stale in our last couple doubles matches,” Wilson said. “Lefty and Matt match up well together. Matt has a huge serve, and Lefty is really athletic. We felt like Lefty could do some good things at the net.”

Wilson also said that he liked the idea of matching up the promising freshman with Hagan so he could learn a thing or two from the senior.

“Playing with Lefty was a little different,” Hagan said. “Playing with Dom, I don’t have to worry about him. I have to keep Lefty a little more engaged. He is incredibly talented, but you have to stay on him.”

Of course, this had other implications on Iowa’s lineup. Freshmen Stieg Martens and Jake Jacoby have become good friends off the court, and that chemistry has translated to the court in their new pairing at No. 2 doubles.

Fellow freshman Josh Silverstein and Patrick played some doubles matches with each other in the fall, so Wilson decided to reunite the two at No. 3 doubles.

As for Hagan, the ranked wins and weekly awards are just one step toward his goal for the end of the year.

“Matt’s expectations for himself are really high,” Wilson said. “He wants to be in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year. He’s taking on more of a leadership role with this team, and he’s starting to realize his potential.

“The high-pressure matches that Matt plays in says everything about how good he is and how good he is playing. He wants the moment.”

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


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