The Hawkeyes have a weekend jammed with conference matches.
By Lauren Jimmerson
By Lauren Jimmerson
The nationally ranked Iowa men’s tennis team faces another busy conference weekend, hosting No. 35 Minnesota today and traveling to face Wisconsin on March 25.
Iowa fell four spots in this week’s rankings to No. 44, and Jonas Larsen and Kareem Allaf also dropped 24 spots in the doubles rankings to No. 70. The freshman tandem of Will Davies and Piotr Smietana rose 11 spots to No. 40, having won 11-straight matches.
Minnesota enters the weekend ranked No. 35 in the nation with an 8-4 record. The Gophers will try to bounce back from a 4-2 loss to Central Florida on March 14. They began conference play last month, defeating Wisconsin ( 5-2) on Feb. 17 in Minneapolis.
“Obviously, it’s a big weekend for us,” Iowa head coach Ross Wilson said. “We always want to beat [Minnesota] and compete well against them.”
The previous two Iowa-Minnesota matchups ended in favor of the home team. Iowa fell to the Gophers 5-2 on March 26, 2017, at the Baseline Tennis Center. The year before that, the Hawkeyes claimed a 4-1 victory on March 27, 2016, at the Hawkeye Tennis Complex.
Minnesota will be the sixth ranked opponent for the Hawkeyes, and it features three ranked singles players.
“For us at this point, we’ve played some ranked opponents,” Wilson said. “I think our guys understand what it takes to win.”
Seniors Matic Spec and sophomore Felix Corwin lead the visitors, and both are nationally ranked in singles. Corwin (93) and Spec (104) also rank 78th nationally in doubles. Another senior, Stefan Milicevis, boasts a national ranking of 75.
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The Hawkeyes will be the Gophers’ first ranked opponent this season.
After playing tonight, Iowa will head to Madison early Saturday morning. The quick turnaround will be a struggle for the Hawkeyes, but that shouldn’t faze the team.
“As a tennis player, you’re used to traveling from tournament to tournament, and our guys have done this all their lives, so they are used to it,” Wilson said.
Davies also is not troubled with the shift in scenery.
“We’re in full swing, and we’re doing well now, so I think it’s that much easier to get yourself [ready] for the next one,” he said.
After losing their last two matches against the Badgers, Iowa hopes to claim its second victory of the weekend.
“The guys were very disappointed losing to them last year,” Wilson said. “We lost a really close doubles point when we had the serve — the guys remember that.”
Wisconsin heads into the weekend with a 9-6 record, and it will try to continue its three-match winning streak. Leading the Badgers are seniors Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge, who have the No. 5 spot nationally in doubles.
Working in Iowa’s favor all weekend, not just against Wisconsin, is its ability to start matches strong; the Hawkeyes have claimed the doubles point in 13 of their 16 matches this season.
The three things the Hawkeyes focus on each week are competing well, playing as a team, and controlling their emotions.
“I think if we do all three of those things, we have a good chance at winning this weekend,” Wilson said.