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Hawkeyes face most pivotal match of year

BY BLAKE DOWSON | APRIL 08, 2015 5:00 AM

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The No. 72 Iowa men’s tennis team (11-6, 3-3) is headed west for a midweek battle with Nebraska.

“Nebraska is another tough team,” interim head coach Ross Wilson said. “We have got to play well. Doubles will be as important as always. It’s going to be a big battle.”

The Cornhuskers (10-8, 3-3) have played eight ranked opponents, with Iowa being the ninth. They only have wins over two — No. 42 Denver and then-No. 65 Santa Clara.

At .500 in the Big Ten, this is no doubt a big match for the Hawkeyes. Iowa cannot afford to fall behind in the conference as it heads into the latter half of its schedule.

“Every game we play from now on is so important,” senior Matt Hagan said. “We can’t afford to have letdowns.”

In a season that has seen the team state the most important match is whoever is next on the schedule, the contest with Nebraska carries far more weight than the others.

The match against the Cornhuskers will affect the Big Ten standings in a big way. The Hawkeyes, Cornhuskers, and Hoosiers are tied for sixth place in the conference.

If the Hawkeyes beat the Cornhuskers, they stay in the top half of the Big Ten. If they lose, they fall below .500 with four-straight ranked opponents looming and the softest part of their schedule behind them.

The Hawkeyes three Big Ten victories have come against the bottom three teams in the standings — Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin, which have a combined record of 2-17 in the Big Ten.

“This is such a huge match,” Wilson said. “We have the No. 3 team in the country coming up after this. We need to get this win. We need to keep pace.”

In order to beat the Cornhuskers, Jacoby said, the Hawks have to learn from the loss they suffered at Indiana.

“We got off to a good start against Indiana in doubles,” Jacoby said. “Singles was nip and tuck; we had an opportunity to win four in the first set, and we only got two.

“It could have been a whole different match if we got more of those. We have to come up more clutch.”

Wilson said getting off to a quick start would go a long way in determining who will win the match.

“If we play well in doubles, extending our lead is important,” he said. “Getting off to a quick start is huge; we didn’t do that against Indiana.

The match against Nebraska is do-or-die for the Hawkeyes. In what could be considered its first must-win of the year, Jacoby said Iowa is ready for the challenge.

“It’s always tough on the road, but we want to avenge our loss from last year,” he said. “We’re going there with confidence, and we’re ready to go.”


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