April 10, 2008
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- Big Ten Network: Programming Schedule
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- 2008 Big Ten Tournament page
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s been 15 years since the Big Ten Conference held its men’s dual team tennis championships in Iowa City. The league and its faithful followers are in for a treat later this month when the men’s tournament returns to the UI April 24-27 — this time to the Klotz Outdoor Tennis Courts and the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.
“This will be a good showcase,” Iowa head men’s coach Steve Houghton said. “Our facility should help with fan interest as well.”
Supporting the motto that the best things in life are free, there is no admission charge to the four-day, single-elimination affair. All 11 conference schools will participate. There will be a slight revision to the traditional match scoring protocol — as soon as a team has won two matches in doubles, they will receive the doubles point and both teams will move to singles play. Singles matches will be halted once a team reaches four points. The time-saving move should allow duals that usually require 3 to 3 ½ hours to be completed in 2 to 2 ½ hours.
The first match of the tournament will feature the No. 8 vs. the No. 9 seeds at 9 a.m. on April 24. The championships match will begin at noon on April 27.
There is another reason for pulling out the stops as a host. Houghton is certain the UI will woo the rest of the Big Ten, which could eventually pave the way for hosting the Big Ten singles championship or an ITA Regional event that would include all the programs from the Midwest. Both the singles championship and regionals are held during the fall.
Houghton pointed to another benefit of acting as tournament host. The Hawkeyes have absorbed their share of wear and tear after a season that has included road trips to Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois.
“It’s great for the players on the team, too,” Houghton said. “Not having to travel is a benefit. We will obviously also have home court advantage and a supportive crowd.”
That means that this weekend’s duals at Wisconsin (Saturday) and Northwestern (Sunday) will be the final two away from Iowa City this season for the Hawkeyes. Iowa is currently 10-7 overall, 2-4 in the Big Ten Conference. Houghton hopes a strong finish to the league dual slate will allow the Hawkeyes to trim a possible four-day tournament into a three-day event. The top five finishers during the Big Ten regular season receive a first-round bye and do not play until Friday.
“One of our goals is to avoid playing on Thursday,” Houghton said. “It’s been a really good year and I’m very pleased. We’ve made big, big improvement over the last few years.”
This is the 27th season for Houghton, who led the UI to a fourth-place Big Ten finish in 1984. The Hawkeyes placed fifth in 1993, the last time the tournament was held here.
The new tennis facility at the UI, which Houghton says has already attracted interest from some talented recruits, is very spectator-friendly.
“It will be much better from a viewing standpoint,” Houghton said. “The facility has generated a lot more fan interest, too.”
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
|Thursday, April 24|
|Match 1||9 a.m.||No. 8 vs. No. 9|
|Match 2||Noon||No. 6 vs. No. 11|
|Match 3||3 p.m.||No. 7 vs. No. 10|
|Friday, April 25|
|Match 4||10 a.m.||No. 1 vs. Match 1 winner|
|Match 5||10 a.m.||No. 4 vs. No. 5|
|Match 6||2 p.m.||No. 3 vs. Match 2 winner|
|Match 7||2 p.m.||No. 2 vs. Match 3 winner|
|Saturday, April 26|
|Match 8||10 a.m.||Match 4 winner vs. Match 5 winner|
|Match 9||2 p.m.||Match 6 winner vs. Match 7 winner|
|Sunday, April 27|
|Match 10||noon||Match 8 winner vs. Match 9 winner|
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