Hawkeyes Travel to Mobile, AL, for Spring Trip

March 15, 2004

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This Week: The Iowa men’s tennis team will travel to Mobile, AL, to compete against three Sun Belt Conference opponents for its annual spring trip. The Hawkeyes will face New Orleans at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, South Alabama at 12:30 p.m. Friday and Troy State at 8 a.m. Sunday. All competitions will take place at the Bruce David Lubel Memorial Tennis Courts on the campus of the University of South Alabama.

The Privateers: New Orleans is 7-3 after wins over Texas-San Antonio and Southern University last weekend. Luka Bernard, Nicolas Houard and Pierre Ros-Barbier lead the Privateers in singles competition. Bernard and Gabriel Delarue are New Orleans’ top doubles team. The Privateers are coached by Burzis Kanga.

The Jaguars: South Alabama, ranked 46th nationally, is currently on a six-match winning streak after a HEB Collegiate Tennis Tournament title and a win over Indiana State. The Jaguars are led in singles competition by junior Franticek Babej, ranked 27th nationally, senior Pavel Majaev and junior David Kepka. Babej and Kepka are South Alabama’s top doubles team. South Alabama is coached by Scott Novak, who has led the Jaguars to 10 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. South Alabama will host 11th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Wednesday.

The Trojans: Troy State is 4-10 after a 5-2 win over Birmingham-Southern. Freshman Irving Morales and juniors Emir Basic and Robert van Swelm lead the Trojans in singles competition. Morales and van Swelm are also Troy State’s top doubles team. The Trojans are coached by Eric Hayes. Troy State will face Alabama State on Tuesday.

Series Records: This will be the first meetings between Iowa and all three Sun Belt Conference opponents.

Common Foe: Iowa, New Orleans and South Alabma have all competed against Indiana State this season. The Hawkeyes defeated the Sycamores (5-2) in Iowa City. Both New Orleans and South Alabama swept Indiana State on their home courts.

Hawkeyes Fall to Nation’s Best: In its last outing, Iowa faced the country’s best competition in a 7-0 loss to top-ranked Illinois. The Hawkeyes came one tiebreak short of winning the doubles point and were swept in singles competition.

Dual Savior: In all three of Iowa’s wins this season, sophomore Parker Ross has claimed meet point with a victory in the No. 3 singles position.

Young No. 1: Sophomore Chaitu Malempati has played the No. 1 singles position in all eight of Iowa’s duals this season. At 19, he is the youngest Hawkeye to play in Iowa’s top position since Tyler Cleveland competed at No. 1 as a 19-year-old freshman in 1998.

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 261-248 (.513). 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 15 players to 29 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.