Jan. 20, 2004
This Week: The Iowa men’s tennis team will begin its spring dual season Sunday when its hosts Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. at the Recreation Building. Admission is free.
The Huskies: Northern Illinois will begin its dual season Friday when it travels to Madison, WI, to face Wisconsin. The Huskies finished last season 16-10, falling in the title match of the MAC tournament. Seniors Juan Pablo Barriga and Aaron Forsberg lead the Huskie attack. Northern Illinois is led by first-year Head Coach Pontus Hiort, who served as a Huskie assistant under Steven Rodecap for four years.
Iowa-Northern Illinois Series: The Hawkeyes hold a 25-4 advantage over the Huskies. Last year Iowa defeated Northern Illinois, 6-1, in its first dual of the season. The Hawkeyes lost the doubles point, but were victorious in all six singles contests.
Out with the Old, In with the New: The 2004 Hawkeyes will have a much different look. For the first time in nearly a decade the Iowa men will enter the dual season without a dominant returning veteran or all-Big Ten performer in the singles lineup. Gone are last year’s top three players Stuart Waters, Hunter Skogman and Pete Rose. Filling the void are sophomores Johan Bergenas, Parker Ross and Chaitu Malempati. Of the four returnees on Iowa’s roster, only Bergenas, Ross and Malempati have a year of solid playing experience under their belt, competing last season as freshmen. Senior Matis Jasicek returns after an injury-riddled 2003 campaign. Jasiciek is the only other Hawkeye to have any dual-meet experience. Iowa will welcome seven newcomers to this year’s squad. Leading the way is freshman Sebastian Delgado (Guayaquil, Ecuador), who is expected to compete for one of the top singles positions. Sophomore Aaron Schaechterle (Wheaton College) and freshmen Walter Valarezo (Guayaquil, Ecuador), Ryan Reid (Leawood, KS), Jonny Hoak (Des Moines, IA/Avon Farms Prep, CT), Scott Elwell (Lawrence, KS) and Alexis Lebron (Mayaguez, Puerto Rico) will all fight for playing time in both the singles and doubles.
Head Coach: Steve Houghton, the dean of Big Ten tennis coaches, is in his 23rd season as head coach of the Hawkeyes. Houghton has a career record of 258-243 (.515). He became the winningest coach in Iowa tennis history in 1992 and is a member of the Iowa Tennis Hall of Fame. He has coached 10 players to 17 all-Big Ten selections including Tyler Cleveland, who became the first men’s player in Big Ten history to be named Big Ten Player of the Year twice. Four of Houghton’s athletes have also been selected Big Ten Sportsman of the Year.
Quoting Houghton: “Northern Illinois is an excellent team. They are probably the most improved team in our region. We are entering this match with young, inexperienced players and some injuries. It will be very challenging.