Aug. 6, 2007
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, Aug. 2, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2007-08 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY — University of Iowa men’s tennis player Bart van Monsjou is silently climbing the school’s all-time leader board and in the process is making a name for himself nationally.
Van Monsjou, a senior team captain from Oirschot, Netherlands, has 91 career victories for the Hawkeyes, including 44 in singles and 47 in doubles. Prior to this season, van Monsjou ranks ninth in the school record book with 47 career doubles victories and he is tied for 10th with 18 singles victories in a season (2006-07). Van Monsjou teamed with senior J.P. Ritchie a year ago and was rated 28th in NCAA Division I in doubles. The 2006-07 campaign was the best so far for van Monsjou, who was 18-10 at No. 1 singles and 15-9 in doubles, despite missing 2 ½ weeks with a strained muscle in his chest. He has been named team most valuable player, academic all-Big Ten and the Big Ten Sportsman of the Year nominee for the past two seasons.
Van Monsjou is just as successful in the classroom as on the tennis court. He is majoring in industrial engineering and the reputation of the UI’s engineering program helped lure him to Iowa City.
“I really liked the academic programs here, especially the engineering program,” van Monsjou said. “I also had a good relationship with the coaching staff and I wanted to compete in a strong conference like the Big Ten. Everything has worked out well for me.”
UI Coach Steve Houghton is amazed at van Monsjou’s ability to balance academics and athletics while remaining an outstanding role model for the Hawkeye program.
“In a big-picture way, Bart’s strengths extend beyond just playing tennis,” Houghton said. “He has a great attitude and an even keel and he is a very, very good student. I have marveled at how he’s done, not only in tennis, but also in a demanding program like engineering. Bart is great on the court, great in the classroom and a great guy to be around.”
“Bart is great on the court, great in the classroom and a great guy to be around.”
UI Coach Steve Houghton
Houghton, who is entering his 27th season, is the dean of Big Ten men’s tennis coaches. He owns a school-record 285 victories. He has enjoyed watching van Monsjou progress from playing No. 4 singles as a freshman to No. 1 as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“Bart started at No. 4 singles and moved right up the ladder,” Houghton said.
Van Monsjou would also like to move up the national poll.
“I would like to be ranked among the top 30 players (in Division I) in the United States,” van Monsjou said. “Hopefully our doubles team can go a little further than last year and as a team I would like to finish in the top four of the Big Ten.”
Last season the Hawkeyes bolted to victory in their first four dual matches and seven of their first 10 before finishing the season 8-13 overall. During van Monsjou’s career, the UI has won 24 duals, including four in the Big Ten Conference. There is plenty of reason for optimism this season: nine of 10 letterwinners return for the Hawkeyes, the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center is one of the premiere facilities in the league and the Big Championship will be held in Iowa City on April 24-27, 2008.
“Our facilities are a plus and our recruiting class was a little better than it has been in the past,” Houghton said. “The Big Ten is probably the second or third best conference for men’s tennis in the nation. If you finish in the top half of this league you usually make it to the NCAA tournament and that’s a reasonable goal for us this year.”
The Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex and Klotz Outdoor Tennis Courts opened July 31, 2006. Along with eight indoor courts and 12 outdoor courts, the new facility includes sports medicine facilities, team and public locker rooms, meeting rooms and video rooms. The building also houses Iowa tennis offices and a reception area.
The injury that slowed van Monsjou last season has healed and he is ready for bigger accomplishments in 2007-08. He returned to his native Netherlands over the summer where tennis occupied a majority of his time. He is working to improve his No. 55 singles ranking in his homeland.
“I want to continue playing tennis for a couple of years after college,” van Monsjou said. “I’ll see how far I get by focusing on tennis before I go into an engineering career.”
Van Monsjou attended Jacob-Roelands Luceum High School in the Netherlands and competed for the Bastion Baselaar Club. He also participated in field hockey in high school. Van Monsjou said that studying in the United States was not a difficult transition.
“When I got to Iowa, the members of the tennis team were around me right away,” van Monsjou said. “That helped me get acclimated even though it was kind of hard in the beginning because of the language barrier. The people here were great and they were always willing to help out.”
Houghton said there are added responsibilities for a No. 1 singles player, who typically attracts bigger crowds and more attention during their bouts.
“Bart has always represented us well with his sportsmanship and behavior,” Houghton said. “He’s a well-rounded guy who is fun to be around.”