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Iowa picks up must-win against Cornhuskers

BY BLAKE DOWSON | APRIL 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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The doubles point was not needed in the Iowa men’s tennis team’s victory over Nebraska on Wednesday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Interim head coach Ross Wilson said earlier this week that the No. 72 Hawkeyes (12-6, 4-3) needed to work on extending leads in their matches and taking control from the first serve.

After the 4-2 win over the Cornhuskers (10-9, 3-4), Wilson has to be content with his team’s effort.

Junior Dom Patrick started the scoring for the Hawkeyes, tallying a 6-4, 7-5 victory to put Iowa in front.

Patrick had been winless in his last two weeks of play.

Freshman Stieg Martens was next to finish for Iowa. After winning his first set (7-5), the young Belgian dropped the next two (6-3, 6-4) to even the team score.

Martens has been slowed by a toe injury in recent weeks, missing numerous singles matches.

Matt Hagan dropped a close three-set match at No. 1, losing tiebreaks in the first and third sets (7-6, 4-6, 7-6). The senior is ranked No. 112 in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Freshman Josh Silverstein evened the score for Iowa at No. 4 singles. Silverstein continued to ride his hot playing streak, cruising to a 6-1, 6-1 win. Silverstein has now won 13 of his last 15 singles matches.

Lefteris Theodorou picked up a 7-6, 6-3 victory for the Hawkeyes. The freshman’s win put the team up 3-2, a lead that they did not relinquish.

Fellow freshman Jake Jacoby sealed the win for Iowa, winning easily (6-1, 6-2). Jacoby has now won five of his last six singles matches.

With the score at 4-2 after singles play, the doubles portion of the match was abandoned.

The win against Nebraska is a big one for the Hawkeyes. The win keeps Iowa above .500 in the Big Ten and breaks a tie with the Cornhuskers in the standings. The Hawkeyes stand alone at fifth place in the conference.

Including its match against Indiana on Sunday, Iowa is scheduled to finish its conference season against six teams that are currently ranked or have seen time in the top 75.

Nebraska dropped out of the top 75 on Tuesday, but the Cornhuskers have been in the rankings for nine weeks total during the season, climbing as high as No. 58.

With a road trip to Illinois looming to take on No. 3 Illinois and No. 26 Northwestern this weekend, the Hawkeyes’ match on Wednesday was a virtual must-win. Iowa could not have afforded to drop below .500 going into its most important weekend of the season.

But with a win against the Cornhuskers, Iowa will now have some momentum for Illinois and Northwestern.

Since their Big Ten opening loss to No. 32 Minnesota, the Hawkeyes are 4-2 in the conference and keeping pace with the top of the standings.

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


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