Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By SYDNEY OCKER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Ross Wilson enters his third season as head coach of the University of Iowa men’s tennis team. The Hawkeyes open the season Saturday, hosting a doubleheader at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex against Western Michigan (noon) and Creighton (6 p.m.). Admission is free to the public.
How have the team dynamics have changed from last season? Who has stepped into leadership roles?
“Robin Haden has stepped up this year. He has always been someone that has worked hard and done well in the classroom, but he is starting to be more vocal and becoming a guy his teammates are looking at to be a leader.
You also could say the three juniors are captains in training. They have learned a lot the past two and a half years.
Honestly, I don’t know if we’re going to have just one leader this year. It would be great to have six or seven guys doing everything we need them to be doing. That’s the message we have been preaching from the beginning of this year.
It’s a collective effort; we don’t need one guy leading the charge, we need all nine.”
What do you think newcomers Kareem Allaf and Jason Kerst will bring to the team this season?
“We expect Kareem to play fairly high for us this season and because of his international experience, both professionally and in the juniors, he is going to be able to handle that.
It’s going to be about if he can mentally rise to the challenge of difficult matches every single time, but then also the length of the season. It’s a four month grind and hopefully he’s going to be able to handle that well.
Jason is someone who arrived campus and has improved every single day. He had a great fall, picked up some nice wins. He’s going to add some much needed depth in the singles lineup for us this spring.”
How is the team utilizing PlaySight to prepare for the season?
“We are using it to tape practice sets, especially in singles and doubles where the coaches can go back and watch the athletes and watch the decisions they are making throughout the set. We can show them the next day at practice what they were doing well and what they need to improve on.
In doubles, it’s nice because we can see if they’re getting to the right spots, if they’re serving to the right spots, and seeing where they’re returning.
It’s good for them to be able to watch themselves play and be able to make the adjustments.
It makes them a little more self-aware when they get on the court on where they need to focus. It has been a good tool and we will continue to use it and keep improving.”
How exciting is it to be included in the ITA Kick Off in January?
“Qualifying for the ITA Kickoff was a goal when the junior class stepped on campus as freshmen and we’ve accomplished it in two years, so that is exciting. We want to make sure we qualify every single year.
Basically, the top 64 teams in the country all go to regional sites to compete to get to the final 16 of the national indoors, but I think we are a group that has had some success nationally and it’s not good enough for us to just be there.
The guys believe they’re going to be able to compete with the top-ranked teams that will be there. It will be a great opportunity for us and we’re excited.”