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Iowa gets into win column in Big Ten play

BY BLAKE DOWSON | MARCH 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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The No. 45 Iowa men’s tennis team (9-4) picked up its first conference win of the season against Wisconsin on Sunday, 4-3.

Sunday was deemed “Steve Houghton Day” at Iowa’s match, in which they honored the Hawkeye tennis coach of 33 years in a short ceremony between the doubles and singles matches.

“This was all Coach [Ross] Wilson’s idea,” Houghton said. “It was a good representation of guys here. A lot of guys drove or flew back for it. I’m fortunate for my time here.”

The Hawkeyes started off slowly in doubles play, dropping the point to the Badgers with losses from the No. 1 and No. 3 spots.

Iowa picked things up during singles play, with two quick and decisive victories from freshman Lefteris Theodorou in the No. 3 position and Josh Silverstein in the No. 4 spot.

“The two quick points in singles were big,” Wilson said. “We were able to grab a little momentum there, and that was huge.”

Senior Andres Estenssoro filled in for freshman Stieg Martens, who was wearing a walking boot after his doubles match, at No. 6 singles. Wilson said that Martens is nursing a minor toe injury and the walking boot is precautionary.

Estenssoro dropped the match to even the team score at 2-2.

Freshman Jake Jacoby, in what turned out to be the biggest match of the day, scored a come-from-behind victory at No. 5.

After dropping his first set, Wilson offered some words of encouragement to Jacoby. The freshman responded by winning the second and third sets (6-2, 6-0).

“Jake had a quick start in that second set,” Wilson said. “He had some missed opportunities in the first, but he came back and fought really hard. It was huge for him to get us that third team point.”

With Iowa needing one more point to win the match, senior Matt Hagan and junior Dom Patrick both battled back to force third sets after dropping their first sets.

Patrick sealed the victory for the Hawkeyes at No. 2 (5-7, 6-3, 6-1).

“For him to fight back like that, it’s not surprising,” assistant coach Ty Schaub said. “It was good for him to get the spotlight a little bit today.”

Hagan dropped his match after Iowa had clinched the team win.

Wilson said the team is full steam ahead now that it has its first conference win under its belt.

“Every win is big in conference,” he said. “We play in one of the toughest conferences in the country. Every team is ranked; there aren’t any easy wins. Today was good for our confidence moving forward.”

Iowa played two matches over spring break, losing to No. 38 San Diego State, 5-2, and No. 25 Minnesota, 7-0.

“San Diego State was a tough team,” Wilson said. “We were playing against grown men out there. Minnesota is a good team as well. They took control of our match and never let go. That’s where we want to get to.”

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


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