Kings of Comeback

Feb. 18, 2011

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IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa men’s tennis team made a thundering rally to take down Illinois State 4-3 in the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Friday night. Illinois State (4-2 overall) held the team lead most of the match and led Iowa 3-2 with two singles matches remaining, but senior Austen Kauss and junior Will Vasos earned third-set victories to give Iowa (2-3) the comeback win.

Although the outcome once looked to be in Illinois State’s favor, head coach Steve Houghton’s squad never stopped fighting, and flipped the script on Illinois State following the final two dramatic matches.

“It was a very tough, hard fought match against a strong team,” said Houghton. “Illinois State is definitely a national-level team, and our guys had to fight like crazy to win it.”

After dropping the first set 3-6, Kauss took control against opponent Matej Zlatkovic from that point on. Kauss won the next sets 6-2, 6-2 to earn his third singles win of the season, but more importantly, tie the team score 3-3 with Vasos leading late in the third set.

With all the eyes on Vasos and Illinois State’s Filip Miljevic, including Vasos’ parents who made the trip from Colorado, Vasos closed the door on the Redbirds and secured the Hawkeye comeback victory. Vasos was down 1-5 in the first set, but secured a 7-6 victory. After dropping the second set 2-6, Vasos pulled through in a tie-breaker to win the third set.

Vasos was aided by two big serves, and when Miljevic couldn’t keep a return in bounds on match point, the crowd erupted with Vasos claiming the third set 7-6.

“My parents love to come out here and watch, and I had my grandparents and aunt here too, so it was special,” said Vasos. “My coaches just told me to keep believing, and that is the exact situation we practice for.”

Kauss and Vasos have combined for 63 career singles victory, and both were staples of the starting lineup last season.

“One thing that came through my mind was that both of those guys really came through a lot for us last year,” said Houghton. “If I could pick any two players to have in that situation, it probably would be them.”

Sophomore Garret Dunn put Iowa on the board first, winning in No. 6 singles against Skip Span by a 6-2, 6-4 margin.

Timon Reichelt edged Nikita Zotov to give the Redbirds the lead again at 2-1, but junior Marc Bruche knotted things up again with a victory in No. 1 singles. Bruche defeated Alexander Pelaez 7-6, 6-3.

“Bruche deserved a lot of credit. He played a very good top-singles player,” said Houghton. “Garret also played his best match of the season for us.”

Junior Tom Mroziewicz fell in the No. 5 hole against Tuomas Manner as the Redbirds took the 3-2 lead, but Kauss and Vasos provided the fireworks from there in the Hawkeye victory.

“We told them we really needed a win here after playing well, but losing the last couple matches,” said Houghton. “We kind of figured this would be a 4-3 type match too, and we came out on top by that margin.”

Sophomore Garret Dunn and junior Tom Mroziewicz led the Hawkeyes in doubles play, as the two teamed up together for just the third time in their careers. Dunn – who has been in the Iowa lineup in both singles and doubles since the year started – and Mroziewicz defeated the Redbird’s Filip Miljevic and Mya Smith-Dennis 8-6. It was Mroziewicz’s first time cracking the lineup this season.

The Hawkeyes didn’t fare well in the other two doubles matches. Previously unbeaten Marc Bruche and Will Vasos fell to Alexander Pelaez and Timon Reichelt 8-3 in No. 1 doubles. Seniors Austen Kauss and Nikita Zotov fell to Illinois State’s Tuomas Manner and Matej Zlatkovic 8-4.

Iowa will be in action next against Western Michigan this Sunday at home. Start time will be 10:30 a.m. in the HTRC.

Iowa 4,Illinois State 3
Singles Results
Marc Bruche (Iowa) def. Alexander Pelaez (ISU) 7-6, 6-3Timon Reichelt (ISU) def. Nikita Zotov (Iowa) 6-2, 6-4Will Vasos (Iowa) def. Filip Miljevic (ISU) 7-6, 2-6, 7-6Austen Kauss (Iowa) def. Matej Zlatkovic (ISU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2Tuomas Manner (ISU) def. Tom Mroziewicz (Iowa) 7-6, 6-2Garret Dunn (IOWA) def. Skip Span (ISU) 6-2, 6-4
Doubles ResultsAlexander Pelaez/Timon Reichelt (ISU) def. Marc Bruche/Will Vasos (IOWA) 8-3Tuomas Manner/Matej Zlatkovic (ISU) def. Austen Kauss/Nikita Zotov (IOWA) 8-4Garret Dunn/Tom Mroziewicz (IOWA) def. Filip Miljevic/Mya Smith-Dennis (ISU) 8-6=""http:>=""http:>=""http:>