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Men's tennis heads west for 'business trip'

BY BLAKE DOWSON | MARCH 13, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Hawkeye men’s tennis team (8-2) will finally get to spread its wings outside this spring when it takes on San Diego State in San Diego on March 16.

Iowa has been cooped up inside for most of this spring, but a trip to sunny San Diego will change that.

However, there will be work to be done on the courts once they arrive.

“[The Aztecs] are going to be really good,” interim head coach Ross Wilson said. “They’ve already had a couple top-25 wins, and they’ll be top 45 when we play them. They’re big and athletic.”

The Aztecs, ranked No. 35, have compiled a 9-4 record with big wins against No. 21 South Carolina and then-No. 22 California. They are undefeated at home.

“They are a really tough team,” senior Matt Hagan said. “It’s going to be a good test for us to see where we are so far.”

With two weeks off before the road trip, the Hawkeyes have taken the opportunity to get into better playing shape in anticipation of the outdoor match.

“The courts play a little slower,” Wilson said. “Serves aren’t as big. That means you have to move a little more. Plus you have to deal with the Sun and the wind. Playing outdoors is more mental than indoors.”

With the mild weather that has come through Iowa City, the team has been able to get outside and practice to prepare for San Diego State.

Although the Hawkeyes have seen themselves rise in the rankings for three-straight weeks, Wilson said the target is still on the opponent and not Iowa.

“We don’t see that on us,” he said. “We see us as the hunters and everyone else as the hunted. We always talk about what we have to gain.”

Iowa will be in San Diego for four days. With the match being played on Monday, the team will have an opportunity to relax for the weekend.

“The trip will be a good bonding experience,” assistant coach Ty Schaub said. “Road trips like these in the middle of the year are important for a team.”

Wilson, who is familiar with the city from coaching at the University of San Diego, said it will be nice to have a change of scenery and hang out on the beach.

Iowa will try to use its big match against the Aztecs as a slingshot into Big Ten season; it will take on No. 22 Minnesota in Minneapolis on March 20.

“The match against [San Diego] is big for our conference season,” Schaub said. “We have an extremely strong conference, and we have to be playing our best going into it.”

Hagan said he is excited about the weather and bonding in San Diego but acknowledged that Iowa is going out there on a business trip.

“The nice weather will be awesome, and it will be a good team atmosphere,” he said. “But we’ve been practicing really hard.

“We’ve prepared mentally, prepared physically, and we’re ready to go.”

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


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