Iowa men’s tennis keeps moving at ITAs

Three Hawkeyes pulled off wins in the All-American Championships, but only two players remain alive in the qualifying round.


Lily Smith

Iowa's Piotr Smietana serves a ball during the Iowa/Creighton tennis match at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bluejays, 7-0.

Cody Smith, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s tennis team had an up-and-down weekend playing in the qualifying round of the All-American Championship.

Of the five Hawkeye players who traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, three of them picked up at least one win this past weekend. Will Davies, Jonas Larsen, and Joe Tyler all earned victories in their first matches on Sept. 29 playing in the Round of 256 for singles at the at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.

In fact, Larsen and Tyler were even able to make it to the Round of 64 after winning two rounds of prequalifying matches. However, just because the weekend is over doesn’t mean the tournament is.

The All-American Championship is still going on — and play will continue throughout this week after beginning on Monday with the start of the qualifying round. On Day 3, Allaf lost in the Round of 128 to Southern Alabama’s Clement Marzol in a third set tiebreaker.

Allaf and doubles partner Jonas Larsen — ranked No. 35 in the country as a team — also fell in their Round of 64 to Tim Handel and Ruben Montano of Northern Arizona (6-2, 6-2). Handel and Montano went 14-0 last season, including an undefeated run in conference play.

There was plenty of other action over the weekend, though. On Sept. 29, Tyler led things off for the Hawkeyes, notching a straight-set victory over Hofstra’s Jan Leithner (6-2, 6-1), giving him his second victory in the tournament after winning his first round by default.

Following that victory, Larsen also secured his spot to the Round of 64 after getting two three-set victories. He first defeated Kennosuke Nouchi of Western Michigan (3-6, 6-3, 6-4). Then in his Round of 128 match, Larsen beat Southern Utah’s Agustin Tamagnone (6-3, 2-6, 6-1).

Unfortunately for Iowa, Larsen and Tyler both dropped their matches in the prequalifying Round of 64 on Sunday. Larsen lost (6-4, 6-2) to Jan Galka of Louisiana, while Tyler fell to Columbia’s Rian Pandole (6-0, 7-5).

On the other hand, Davies continued his excellent start to the fall season after edging out Johnathan Small of Notre Dame in a three-set tiebreaker to advance to the Round of 128 before falling in three sets to New Mexico’s Dominic West (3-6, 6-4, 7-5).

Getting that first year under his belt is all Davies needed in order to excel in his sophomore campaign.

“Being a sophomore this year, I feel more comfortable. I’m playing with a lot more confidence, and I believe in myself,” he said in a release. “Last weekend, I played with some good stuff and played well.”

Not every Hawkeye was able to come out with a win, however. Sophomore Piotr Smietana had a disappointing opening match, dropping his Round of 256 battle to Andrew Li of Georgia Tech (6-1, 6-3).

While it would be nice for the Hawkeyes if they performed well at the tournament, success isn’t everything. For Iowa, the fall season is a chance to get playing opportunities against elite competition and grow prior to the start of team competition in the spring.

That’s the main goal, but the team has still performed pretty well on the court upt to this point.

“There are a lot really good teams in the Big Ten,” Iowa head coach Ross Wilson said in a release. “Our goal every year is to finish in the top four of the conference and qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Over the years, I believe we’ve shown, especially last year, that we can compete with anybody.” 

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