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Hawkeyes looks to learn from tough road tests

BY BLAKE DOWSON | APRIL 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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After a tough weekend on the road, members of the Iowa men’s tennis team will try to regather themselves for the final weekend of the regular season.

“Both Illinois and Northwestern played us really tough,” interim head coach Ross Wilson said. “I think we were a little nervous against Illinois, with our freshmen playing against the No. 3 team in the country.”

Iowa struggled to find its rhythm on the court all weekend, leading to a pair of lopsided victories for the home teams.

But with three matches left on their schedule, the Hawkeyes do not have time to dwell on this past weekend, especially with No. 11 Ohio State and No. 51 Penn State heading to Iowa City this weekend.

So what can Iowa take from their trip to Illinois to help them against the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions?

“We can’t play scared,” Wilson said. “We have to play our game, the same we always play it. Illinois does that, and that’s why they’re so good. We want to get there.”

If nothing else, the Hawkeyes can take a deep breath knowing their toughest road trip is behind them.

Freshman Jake Jacoby said the experience he gained against Illinois would help him the rest of the season.

“That was our toughest road trip, probably the toughest one you can experience,” he said. “But I liked the hostile environment, I fed off it at Illinois. It was good exposure to great competition.”

Wilson said although it is important to take certain things from every match, it is equally important to leave some things behind.

“With any match, you scrap some things,” he said. “We thought we had a chance against Northwestern; we wanted to play them closer. But we’re moving on to the next one.”

With the Big Ten as tough as it is, the Hawkeyes were inevitably going to hit a rough patch somewhere down the line.

“The Big Ten is great,” junior Dom Patrick said. “We need to compete and perform to the best of our ability, which I’m confident can put us in a position to win matches against top-25 teams.”

In a conference with seven ranked teams, it was the first time this year the Hawkeyes lost back-to-back games in conference play.

No one wants to come home from a road trip with nothing to show for it. But for Iowa, losing to two top-30 teams is not the end of the line, something Jacoby acknowledged.

“We didn’t play our best, but we need to take away the fact that those teams were top three in the Big Ten,” Jacoby said. “It’s good to see that level of competition.

“Heading into the latter part of the season, it’s important to see that competition right before the Big Ten Tournament.”

The 6th seed in the conference tournament is on the line. If Iowa seals the 6th seed it will take on the 11th seed, more than likely Michigan State or Michigan.

If Iowa falls to the 7th seed, it would likely take on Nebraska or Wisconsin.

“If we’ve learned anything,” Jacoby said, “it’s that we don’t lie down to anyone. If we keep our competitive attitude and build on that, we can compete with anyone.”

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


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