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Iowa beats Wisconsin, gets Illinois next

BY BLAKE DOWSON | APRIL 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team lives to fight another day after a 4-0-blowout victory over Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.

Although it’s only one match, Iowa definitely chose the right time of the year to start playing its best tennis.

“We played really well,” interim head coach Ross Wilson said. “Everyone in the lineup, they all played well. We took the momentum from doubles, and we didn’t look back.”

Every healthy Hawkeye played in what was possibly the best performance from the team of the season, even with freshman Stieg Martens sitting out because of a nagging foot injury.

The Hawkeyes took control of the match from the start with wins from freshman Jake Jacoby and senior Andres Estenssoro at No. 3 doubles and junior Dom Patrick and freshman Josh Silverstein at No. 2 doubles.

Iowa kept its foot on the gas heading into singles play, winning all six first-set games.

Senior Matt Hagan, freshman Lefteris Theodorou, Silverstein, and Jacoby all took their first sets easily, while Patrick and sophomore Nils Hallestrand won in tiebreakers.

“Today was awesome,” Hagan said. “Getting the doubles point is huge in a match where the teams are so even. We got a ton of momentum after that and took it right into singles, winning all of those sets.”

Wilson said he knew the Hawks had it in them but admitted he was a little surprised at how it all came together against Wisconsin, a team they narrowly beat, 4-3, earlier in the year.

“The first time we played [Wisconsin], it was close, and the conditions were bad,” Wilson said. “But today, we haven’t had too many matches like that where we took control in doubles, kept momentum, and killed it in singles.”

The win against the Badgers means that Hagan, who was named to first team All-Big Ten honors before the match, and Estenssoro get to put on the Iowa uniform at least one more time.

Hagan has advanced in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in his career, and he relishes the moment.

“It’s a pretty great feeling right now,” he said. “My last couple years, we lost in the first round. It’s cool going out in a winning way. We’ve had a good season, and it’s refreshing to beat Wisconsin.”
Waiting for the Hawkeyes today is No. 3 Illinois, the top seed in the tournament.

Although beating the Illini stands as a tall task, anything is possible at this point in the season.

If Thursday is any indication, the Hawkeyes are playing their best tennis at the right time. If they play as they did against Wisconsin, perhaps Illinois will tighten up and play timidly.

If Iowa can steal the doubles point, it will could put the match up for grabs.

“We just need to keep playing like we have been,” Hagan said. “We can push anyone. I think if we believe in ourselves and fight for every single point, you never really know what can happen.”

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


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