BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 7:20 AM
Traditionally, tennis is a sport passed down through generations.
Sophomore Will Vasos came across the sport a bit differently. His aunt and two sisters replaced his parents as a guide into the tennis world.
While the sport was in his blood, it somehow skipped a generation with his mother and father, who never played the game. Growing up, Vasos said a “family effort” helped him pick up a racket.
When the time came, he easily adjusted to high-school tennis. He started in the No. 1 spot immediately as a freshman for Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo. And his sister, Bobbe, currently an assistant coach at West Point, was the head coach of the school team when he arrived.
By his senior season, Vasos was among the top 100 tennis players in the nation and had teams from Michigan State to North Carolina State calling his number.
But family ties helped him decide where he wanted to go.
“He contacted me when he was a junior,” Iowa head coach Steve Houghton said. “One thing about Will is that he has Iowa roots.”
With family members in both Waterloo and Des Moines, Vasos felt right at home in the Hawkeye State. His also had a cousin on campus — Meg Racette, who started at No. 1 for the Iowa woman’s team from 2003-06 and was named All-Big Ten twice.
Before the recruiting process got into full swing, Vasos had a good idea where he would continue his career on the hard court.
“I looked hard at Michigan State,” he said. “But I kind of always knew I wanted to come here because of all the family I had nearby.”
He said he wouldn’t have chosen anywhere else, describing his first year on campus as “perfect.” He credits the coaching staff and tightly knit team for helping him the transition from high school to college play.
And that transition has indeed gone smoothly.
Following last year’s fall season, he moved up to the No. 4 spot for singles — a big move for a freshman who was expected to barely break into the Iowa lineup.
He was also a surprise in the doubles game, teaming up with senior Tommy McGeorge to create one of the best No. 3 doubles tandems in the Midwest. The couple won their first 12 matches en route to a regional No. 15 ranking.
The duo ultimately finished 18-3 overall, and Vasos went 11-10 in singles, numbers that generated high expectations for this season.
Houghton said Vassos will be a major component for the Hawkeyes’ this season in the Big Ten, and Iowa will rely on him to pick up some of the slack left behind by the graduation of last year’s conference singles champion, Christian Bierich.
And if the pressure gets to him, and he needs someone to talk to? Well, his family will be nearby.
“They’ve always been there to get me going,” Vasos said.