Men's Tennis Poised to Bounce Back

Jan. 31, 2014

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=””http:”=”” target=”_new”>. “We have six seniors so for most of the guys it is nothing new. That it is a big advantage having a lot of match experience.”

Dierckx, along with fellow seniors , , , , and lead the Hawkeyes into a season where the team feels like a lot can be accomplished. The task won’t be easy, as the team competes in the one of the toughest conferences in the nation.

“If we can finish top five in the Big Ten, that will almost guarantee that you make it to NCAAs,” said UI head coach Steve Houghton. “Virtually all of the Big Ten teams are ranked, so there is something to be gained from all of your matches.”

The notion of a strong finish in the conference and a potential run to the NCAA Championships is one that was echoed among the entire team as they prepared for their opening weekend matches against Illinois State and Western Illinois.

“Our ultimate goal would be to go to the NCAA tournament,” said Swank. “We want to make an impact and a splash this year in the Big Ten, and I think (assistant coach) Ross Wilson has helped put us in a position to do that.”

Wilson, in his first year with the program, knows a thing or two about NCAA tournament appearances and how to grind through a tough Big Ten season. A former two-time NCAA All-American and three-time ITA national doubles champion at Ohio State, Wilson has the Hawkeyes working toward postseason aspirations.

Along with the six seniors, Wilson has been working with juniors and , sophomore , and freshman to get the team prepared to start the season.

Estenssoro and Patrick both played regularly last season and bring with them an added experience factor to an already deep roster. Hallestrand, on the other hand, is the only member of the team who has yet to play a collegiate dual. This doesn’t faze Houghton, as he feels like Hallestrand has the potential to contribute right away.

“He is good enough to be playing for us in the lineup, in both singles and doubles,” said Houghton.

Iowa is poised to put behind them the past two seasons of frustration, and to make this a season to remember. Houghton feels this group is determined to make this year special.

“I’m ready,” said Houghton. “I think the team is ready so we are pumped to get out there and get the season started.”

Iowa opens the season with a pair of nonconference duals, hosting Illinois State at 10 a.m. (CT) and Western Illinois at 3 p.m. (CT) on Feb. 1. Both matches will take place inside the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex (HTRC), and are free to the public.