BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | OCTOBER 06, 2009 7:20 AM
Going into this weekend’s All-America Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., Iowa head tennis coach Steve Houghton was cautiously optimistic about the talent playing at the national event.
“If you win one or two matches, there it’s definitely an accomplishment,” Houghton said. “Any of the matches you play down there will be really tough.”
Sophomore Will Vasos and Marc Bruche and seniors Nikita Zotov and Tommy McGeorge were the four Iowa entrants in the tournament.
Zotov and Bruche each had byes in the first round of competition on Oct. 3, then they both lost in the second round.
Vasos put together an impressive first-round victory over Fernando Ristow of Pacific (6-0, 6-3).
The sophomore also ran into trouble after the first round, losing to Carl Ho of New Mexico (7-6, 6-3).
McGeorge finally broke through the second round for Iowa, albeit, in the pre-qualifying bracket, beating Jonathan Obrist of Wichita State after receiving his own first-round bye.
The Tucson, Ariz., native met Leo Rosenberg of Hawaii-Manoa on Sunday in the third round, taking him three sets before losing (3-6, 6-1, 10-7).
The four will compete in doubles play, which will begin today.
The rest of the team traveled to Northwestern for the Wildcat Invitational, where two Hawkeyes recorded their first collegiate victories.
The stars of the meet were also the least experienced players on the team — freshman Garret Dunn and sophomore Mitch Beckert, who excelled in their new environment.
“I was just getting used to college tennis,” Dunn said. “It was a lot different from junior tennis, as I found out this weekend.”
On Oct. 3, the 6-8 Dunn, who lost his first match to a familiar face — fellow Arizonian and friend Drake Kakar of Marquette — finally captured the elusive ‘W’ with a victory over Guilherme Marsiglia of Drake.
Houghton, a former Hawkeye tennis player himself, knows the feeling of getting that first win.
“Once you kind of get your first win on the board, it really relaxes you,” he said.
Dunn teamed up with sophomore Austen Kauss to defeat the Northwestern doubles pair of Chris Jackman and Sidarth Balaji on Sunday for his first doubles victory since departing the high-school ranks.
Beckert had a successful meet, taking down Michael Calderone of Western Michigan in the Flight C competition on Oct. 2 to record the first win of his college career, which he followed up with his first doubles victory as well. He paired up with sophomore Tom Mroziewicz, who played in the A flight — the top level of singles-play competition.
Also winning for the Hawkeyes over the weekend was senior Patrick Dwyer, who won in the Flight B singles on Oct. 2.
Houghton came into the weekend expecting to learn some things about his group, and that’s exactly what he got.
“It confirms some things that guys need to work on, but it pleases me the way that some of the guys responded to competitive nature,” he said. “This is just one bit of data in seeing where guys fit into the team.”