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Men’s tennis set for tough slate

BY BLAKE DOWSON | APRIL 03, 2015 5:00 AM

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The No. 68 Iowa men’s tennis team (10-5, 2-2) will travel to the state of Indiana this weekend for another crucial pair of matches.

The Hawkeyes are scheduled to head to West Lafayette today to take on Purdue.

“Purdue is really tough,” interim head coach Ross Wilson said. “The top of their lineup is really good. It’s tough playing anywhere in the Big Ten, and they’re no exception.”

Purdue (4-12, 0-4) is still seeking its first conference win after a rough start to the league schedule. The Boilermakers have dropped matches to No. 3 Illinois, No. 24 Northwestern, No. 29 Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“Every match in the Big Ten is important and tough,” assistant coach Ty Schaub said. “There aren’t any easy matches; no part of your schedule is easy.”

The Boilermakers also played seven ranked opponents in the nonconference season, including No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Baylor.

“Purdue has played a ton of tough teams,” senior Matt Hagan said. “They made the NCAA Tournament last year. They’re going to be gritty and tough, and we’re going to have to grind through it.”

Up next for the Hawkeyes will be No. 44 Indiana (12-8, 1-3) on April 5.

Playing the Hoosiers presents a great opportunity for the Hawkeyes to gain another ranked win against a team with a lot of experience. A win over Indiana would bolster an Iowa résumé that has two ranked wins.

“[Indiana] is really good,” Wilson said. “They’re ranked highly, they’ve won a lot of close matches, and they’re battle-tested. The schedule they play is tough.”

The Hawkeyes’ match against Indiana will be the Hoosiers’ 12th ranked match of the year.

Indiana is 3-9 in those matches, with wins coming against No. 50 Dartmouth, No. 51 Oregon, and No. 59 Washington.

In order for the Hawkeyes to have a successful weekend, the one-two punch of Hagan and junior Dom Patrick will need to play better. The two are a combined 2-6 in singles play so far in the Big Ten.

“Matt and Dom need to step up this weekend,” Wilson said. “They’re at 1 and 2 singles for a reason. The results haven’t been there lately. They both need to make some adjustments.”

Staying mentally focused in his matches is something that Hagan said he has been trying to work on and something that he will focus on this weekend.

“I have to stay consistent through the whole match,” he said. “My last match I started well but had a let down early in the second set. I have to stay focused, no letdowns.”

For Hagan, his focus on the court has a ripple effect with the rest of the team.

The young Hawkeyes feed off of their senior leader, and the team is only going to go as far as Hagan leads them.

If the senior plays to his potential, the Hawkeyes could see themselves playing in the NCAA Tournament.

For the senior though, it is all about taking steps before trying to run.

“This weekend is really important,” Hagan said. “We have to be ready for anything. We’re going to have to battle and compete really hard to get two big wins.”


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