Hawkeyes Ready For Big Ten Play

March 17, 2009

THIS WEEK — The 52nd-ranked University of Iowa men’s tennis returns home to Iowa City this weekend to begin Big Ten Conference play. Iowa will host Michigan State Friday at 2 p.m. In addition, the Hawkeyes will host Michigan Sunday at 10 a.m. Both matches will be played at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex. Admission is free.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE — Michigan State, ranked 61st nationally, finished tenth in the Big Ten last season. They are coached by Gene Orlando. He is in his 18th season at the helm of the program.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN — Michigan, ranked 32nd nationally, finished fourth in the Big Ten last season. The Wolverines are led by Head Coach Bruce Berque. He is in his fifth season.

THE SERIES — Iowa is 30-25 all-time against Michigan State and 5-43 against Michigan. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 5-2, in Iowa City last year and lost at Michigan, 5-2.

LAST TIME OUT — The Hawkeyes defeated Scottsdale Community College ( 5-2 ) and Northern Arizona ( 6-1 ) on their annual spring trip. Iowa lost at No. 17 Arizona ( 0-7 ).

IN THE RANKINGS — Iowa is ranked No. 52 in the latest ITA team rankings. Additionally, senior Christian Bierich and sophomore Nikita Zotov are ranked 31st nationally in doubles competition. The rankings can be found at collegetennisonline.com.

HEAD COACH Steve Houghton — Steve Houghton, the dean of Big Ten tennis coaches, is in his 28th season as head coach of the Hawkeyes. Houghton has a career record of 306-311 (.496) since taking over the program in 1982. His best season came in 1984 when Iowa won a school record 21 matches and two Hawkeyes earned all-Big Ten honors. In 1989, Houghton was named NCAA Region IV Coach of the Year and picked up his 100th career dual win. Four of Houghton’s athletes have also been selected Big Ten Sportsman of the Year. He became the winningest coach in Iowa tennis history in 1992 and is a member of the Iowa Tennis Hall of Fame. While playing at Iowa, Houghton had a career winning percentage of .727 (40-15), second best in Iowa history.