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Hawkeyes take a step back from competition

BY BLAKE DOWSON | MARCH 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team is in the middle of a two-week lull in competition, which also is an opportunity to take a breather from its grueling schedule.

Senior Matt Hagan feels the team has enjoyed the time away from play and have regrouped.

“It’s good to have a mental break around the halfway point of the year,” Hagan said. “It gives us a chance to relax and regroup.”

The Hawkeyes last competed on March 2 at home against Louisiana-Lafayette, and they will not compete again until March 16 against San Diego State in San Diego.

“It’s nice to be at home for this period,” interim head coach Ross Wilson said. “It gives the guys an opportunity to be in class and catch up on school work, and it lets us recharge a little bit. It’s a nice refresher for the last half of the season.”

Wilson said things remain mostly the same at practice during their break. The gap in the Hawkeye’s schedule does give the team a chance to gain back some conditioning that is lost during competition.

“It’s mostly business as usual at practice,” he said. “We try to amp up the conditioning a little bit, which is needed. You lose your shape when you play a lot.”

Assistant coach Ty Schaub also believes that breaks such as this in the middle of the season can help players recover from injuries.

“We’re at the midway point in our schedule,” Schaub said. “Our guys are battle-tested this year. It’s really important to be healthy going into the second half.”

Hagan, who was nagged by an arm and shoulder injury earlier in the season, said he has taken the time off to get his body back to where he wants it to be.

The time off will also be useful, because the Hawkeye’s head coach said it is important to have a break before their conference season, though that also brings up the unwanted possibility of the Hawks becoming stale before their next matches.

“It’s good to have that break between your first few months and your last few months,” he said. “It’s obviously nice for injuries and getting back into shape, but it’s really important to get into the right mindset for the Big Ten season. It’s a grind.”

With just one more nonconference match remaining before the rough and tumble Big Ten, the guys need a chance to recover for the home stretch.

The Hawkeyes do not get a break once their conference season starts. The Big Ten currently has nine teams ranked in the top 75 and four teams with top-25 rankings.

For Iowa, the second half of its season will make or break it. Competing in the challenging Big Ten will show if they are ready to make the leap into the NCAA Tournament.

“We have San Diego State coming up, which is a very good team, and then it’s Big Ten season,” Wilson said. “Every match is going to be big for us if we want to finish top 60 and make a push to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. That’s our goal.”

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


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