Hawkeyes to Face 15th-ranked Minnesota

Jan. 26, 2004

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This Week: The Iowa men’s tennis team will host 15th-ranked Minnesota Sunday. Competition is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Recreation Building. Admission is free.

The Golden Gophers: Minnesota is 1-1 after a loss to Virginia and a win over Northwestern last weekend. Senior Aleksey Zharinov, junior Avery Ticer and senior Chris Wettengel lead the Gophers in singles competition. Ticer and senior Clay Estes, ranked 50th nationally, are Minnesota’s top doubles team.

Iowa-Minnesota Series: The Gophers lead the series over Iowa, 46-33-3. Last year the Hawkeyes were swept (7-0) in Minneapolis.

Hawkeyes Drop Season Opener to Northern Illinois: With both a singles and doubles lineup of four freshmen and two sophomores, Iowa had its hands full in a 6-1 loss to Northern Illinois. With a win in the No. 1 doubles match and a loss in the No. 3 match, the Hawkeyes fell one tiebreak short of a doubles victory with a 9-8 loss in the No. 2 match. Iowa also put up a fight in singles competition, taking three-of-six matches to three sets, but were only able to claim one victory.

Valarezo Leads Hawkeyes with Two Victories: In his first collegiate dual match, freshman Walter Valarezo had a productive outing for the Hawkeyes with a win in both doubles and singles competition. Valarezo teamed with freshman Sebastian Delgado in the No. 1 doubles match to defeat the Huskies’ Juan-Pablo Barriga and Erick Martinez. Valarezo also claimed Iowa’s only point of the day with a three-set singles victory over Aaron Forsberg in the No. 4 match.

Malempati Begins Season at No.1 Singles: In his first collegiate dual at the top position, sophomore Chaitu Malempati put up a fierce battle against Willy Gali. Malempati lost the first set in a 7-6 tiebreak and was edged in the second set, 7-5.

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 258-244 (.514). 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: “Minnesota is typically one of the two or three top teams in the in the Big Ten. With a young team that is still learning, it’s going to be difficult test.”