2006 Season Outlook

Dec. 12, 2005

IOWA CITY, IA – Four Seniors Spur Hawkeye Attack
The Hawkeyes have the luxury of returning every member from a squad that improved their win total by seven matches from the previous season. The 2005 roster features four seniors, all of them veterans of Big Ten play. Chaitu Malempati returns for his final campaign after playing the last two seasons at the number one position in singles. The talented senior is Iowa’s most experienced player and is ready for a breakout year.

Returning Team MVP Brett Taylor is poised for another great season after posting an impressive 18-12 singles record in his first year at Iowa. Taylor’s 18 wins, along with his five conference victories, were both team highs. The junior college transfer also played the entire 2004-05 season at number one doubles.

Senior Kyle Markham looks to improve after spending the entire year playing number two singles and number one doubles in his first year of Big Ten action. Markham, a celebrated doubles player, will be counted on for major contributions in 2005-06. Aaron Schaechterle also returns for his senior season after two years of Big Ten experience. The versatile senior moved up to number two doubles at the end of the 2005 season.

Senior Brett Taylor

Returning Letterwinners Continue To Improve
The Hawkeyes return juniors Jonny Hoak and Scott Elwell. Both look to have a more significant role. Hoak, who has played anywhere from number three to number six singles, is an experienced player who led the Hawkeyes in conference victories in 2004.

Iowa is counting on more contributions from its talented sophomore class. Sophomores J.P. Ritchie and Bart van Monsjou came in as freshmen and were instant fixtures at number three and number four singles, respectively. van Monsjou was second on the team in dual singles wins with 14, plus he saw significant time at number two doubles. Ritchie was one of Iowa’s most effective doubles players, teaming with Aaron Schaechterle for a team-leading doubles record of 12-6. Mat Sawin is the third member of the sophomore class, and was redshirted last season.

Senior Kyle Markham

Newcomers To Make Immediate Impact
The freshman class is a strong one and all four have the ability to make immediate contributions. The class includes Christian Bierich (Landvetter, Sweden), Zach Frisch (Kansas City, MO), Walker Grimes (Chicago, IL) and Gregory Holm, from (Omaha, NE).

“Bierich brings a great deal of international tennis experience and is projected to play a significant role immediately,” explained Houghton. “He is an outstanding baseliner who had tournament success this fall at the collegiate level.”

“Frisch had a lot of success at the junior level and has carried it over into his fall performances at Iowa. He continues to improve. Grimes played a lot of tennis over the summer and also continues to improve. A serve-and-volley player, Walker is a particularly skilled doubles player and should challenge for a singles position, as well. Holm also had a successful fall and will get better as he continues to evolve into an aggressive, all-court player.”

Keys to the Season
“We have a chance to have a really good season and continue to move up in the Big Ten,” said Houghton. “We have a dedicated group of seniors who really want to finish on a high note. Sometimes seniors are looking ahead to other things in life, but this group seems very focused. They need to lead by example.”

Senior Aaron Schaechterle

“The other returning players all need to take a big jump. They have the skills to do it and they know what it takes to be a successful Big Ten tennis player. The freshmen need to implement a fast learning curve. They are all very capable, but their success will depend on learning quickly what it takes, and getting out of their comfort zones and doing it. This is as hard-working of a team as I’ve had the past few years. They are also `engaged’ in the whole enterprise. I’m confident that those characteristics will take us a long way.”

The Big Ten Race
The Big Ten is clearly one of the top conferences in the country and has been for a number of years.

“If anything, the conference will be stronger from top to bottom this year,” explained Houghton. “Illinois, Ohio State and Minnesota figure to be the top contenders, but there is no such thing as an easy Big Ten win.”