Hawkeye men’s tennis prepares for All-American Championships

Five Iowa men’s tennis team members are traveling to Oklahoma to compete in the ITA All-American Championships.

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Hawkeye men’s tennis prepares for All-American Championships

Freshman Will Davies and Freshman Piotr Smietana take a moment to celebrate during men's tennis, Iowa vs. Illinois on March 31, 2018 at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

Freshman Will Davies and Freshman Piotr Smietana take a moment to celebrate during men's tennis, Iowa vs. Illinois on March 31, 2018 at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

Katie Goodale

Freshman Will Davies and Freshman Piotr Smietana take a moment to celebrate during men's tennis, Iowa vs. Illinois on March 31, 2018 at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Freshman Will Davies and Freshman Piotr Smietana take a moment to celebrate during men's tennis, Iowa vs. Illinois on March 31, 2018 at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

Cody Smith, Sports Reporter

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The Iowa men’s tennis team will continue its fall season Saturday, playing in the All-American championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

To better prepare for the spring season, head coach Ross Wilson will only be bringing his top players to Tulsa: Kareem Allaf, Will Davies, Jonas Larsen, Piotr Smientana, and Joe Tyler.

“These guys have all played this tournament before; they are going to be ready for the competition,” Wilson said. “They are all returning players, and they know their game style. It’s just another opportunity for them to get better and try to get wins in the tournament.”

Playing some of the best competition in the country, the Hawkeyes will surely have some tough battles. The tournament is one of three national events held in college tennis every year. It consists of 128 players from across the country who are then drawn in the pre-qualifier round, in which players have to win three matches in order to advance to the qualifying round, which begins on Oct. 1.

For the Hawkeyes, the four players will begin their tournament on Saturday in the pre-qualifier round, while Allaf has an automatic bid straight to the qualifying round. Additionally, the doubles pairing of Larsen and Allaf — who were ranked No. 35 in the preseason doubles rankings — will also begin their competition in the qualifying round of doubles.

“It’s a much bigger tournament,” Allaf said. “This is probably one of the biggest tournaments in college tennis. We will see how it goes; we are going to take it one match at a time.”

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The tournament will give the Hawkeyes another chance to build on the things they have worked on in practice, as well as an opportunity to learn how to execute.

“Each tournament allows our players to build on their skills and what they are trying to improve on every single week as the tournaments go by the fall season,” Wilson said.

One player to look for this weekend as the tournament progresses is Davies, who made it further than the other Hawkeyes last weekend in Wisconsin. In Milwaukee, Davies put on a show, making it to the quarterfinals after winning three-straight matches, including one over a nationally ranked opponent.

“Obviously, this is my sophomore year, so I have a bit more experience,” Davies said. “Last fall, I was a little bit nervous, but coming into this fall, I have more confidence in my game in what I can do well and how I can affect the game through my style of play.”

If the Hawkeyes can continue to gain valuable experience on the road in tournaments such as the All-American, then perhaps Iowa tennis will be in a good position to improve on last season’s record on the road, when it went just 3-7.

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