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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s tennis team is set to kickoff the spring season ranked 43rd in the country featuring the No. 16 doubles tandem of Will Davies and Oliver Okonkwo and No. 60 Kareem Allaf. The doubles ranking is the highest in school history along with a personal best ranking for Allaf.
Iowa proved its worth this fall by dominating most of the competition. Allaf in singles and Davies/Okonkwo and Clegg/Snezhko advanced to the ITA Fall Nationals Tournament in November. Allaf won for straight regional matches to advance as did Davies/Okonkwo. Clegg/Snezhko rattled off three straight to earn their spot.
The Hawkeyes are coming off of one of its most impressive seasons in school history boasting 18 wins, 14 of which came at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex, a program best. Additionally, Iowa knocked off three ranked Big Ten foes and its fifth place finish was the best finish in 20 years.
Once again the Hawkeyes face a challenging schedule, playing 14 opponents who were ranked in the top 70 in last year’s final ITA Rankings. Iowa will host 18 matches at the HTRC this year beginning with Texas Tech in the season-opener on Jan 16.
“We have a lot of teams that we’re playing this season that were in the top 60 and top 70 last year. Starting with Texas Tech, a team we always have battles with. It’s always 4-2, 4-3 so that will be a key match for us if we want to make NCAAs. If we’re able to come out and play our best tennis it should be a good start to the season”, said Mellecker Family Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ross Wilson.
Iowa missed the NCAA Tournament by one spot a season ago. The goal to make the tournament remains the same for Wilson and company.
“A lot of the guys from last year are hungry and motivated knowing we could have been in. They were motivated all summer and those results showed in the fall.”
The Hawkeyes return seven student-athletes from last year’s squad and welcome true freshman Matt Clegg. Allaf, a senior, will be starting in the No. 1 spot for Iowa for his second consecutive season to lead the team in singles.
“He has improved mentally and match-by-match you will see a lot more consistent results from Kareem and more wins playing No. 1 for us. That’s something we’ve never had the last five or six years.”
Doubles has always been a staple of the program in the Wilson era. The Hawkeyes boast a plethora of good doubles players.
“Clegg has shown a lot of promise as a true freshman making ITA Nationals in doubles and this is definitely the deepest team one through eight so whoever gets the call they will be ready to go and put a point on the board for the team.”