By the numbers: Iowa men’s tennis ready to get back in the swing of things

The fall semester is nearing the halfway point, which means it’s time for Iowa men’s tennis to return.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Kareem Allaf and Jonas Larsen celebrate during a tennis match between Iowa and Western Michigan in Iowa City on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The Hawkeyes earned the doubles point but lost the match overall, 5-2.

Cody Smith, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s tennis team has put in the work this offseason getting ready for the upcoming campaign. Both the returning players and the newcomers are excited about what’s to come after the Hawkeyes closed last season with the fourth-highest victory total in school history (16).

This season, Iowa will bring back five starters. With the Hawkeyes’ first competition coming Thursday in the Milwaukee Tennis Classic, a look at the numbers of three keys Iowa needs to focus on if it wants to build on last year’s impressive performance seems in order.

RELATED: Iowa women’s tennis has a new squad to rebuild the team


3-7 record on the road

In 10 matches on the road last season, the Hawkeyes grabbed only three victories, those coming in close matches against Dartmouth, Dayton, and Michigan State. Given their struggles on the road, it was no surprise the Hawkeyes started last season on a three-game road losing streak before they picked up their first victory against No. 14 Dartmouth.

Obviously, not much magic for the traveling Hawkeyes. At home, the Hawkeyes were incredible, posting a .684 winning percentage. On foreign courts, they compiled a .300 percentage. In fact, even in the three road wins, Iowa barely escaped. All of Iowa’s three road wins were close — the Hawkeyes edged Dartmouth (4-3), then squeaked by Dayton and Michigan State (4-2).

If the Hawkeyes are going to build on last year’s foundation, they have to play better away from the Hawkeye Tennis Complex.

5 returning starters

After enjoying a successful season in 2017-18, this one should be no different. The Hawkeyes finished the spring season ranked No. 57 in the county, fifth in the Central Region.

With that experience, the five returning starters — Kareem Allaf, Jonas Larsen, Will Davies, Piotr Smietana, and Joe Tyler — should be ready to lead Iowa to the top of the rankings.

Having an experienced roster will definitely benefit the team when facing tough situations. When those circumstances arise, head coach Ross Wilson can look to Allaf and Larsen.

The two enter the fall season No. 35 in the preseason national rankings in men’s doubles. Last season, the two won 17 matches at the No. 1 doubles, including winning nine of their last 11.

Larsen and Allaf’s preseason spot is the first time Iowa has had a tandem in the preseason rankings since 2011, when Marc Bruche and Will Vasos were ranked No. 41.

.167 winning percentage against ranked teams

As solid as Iowa played last season, the Hawkeyes couldn’t sustain that success against the elite teams. Ten of their 15 loses last year came at the rackets of ranked opponents.

They were only able to win two matches against ranked teams, against No. 14 Dartmouth (4-3) and No. 40 Oregon (4-2), and those came in the first half of the season.

When it came to playing some of the best teams in the country, such as No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Georgia, the Hawkeyes were smashed, losing both matches (4-0).

Looking at the numbers, Iowa men’s tennis has some things it need to work on, in addition to some pieces it can lean on.


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