Allaf, Mannix look to keep pushing Hawkeye tennis to wins

Samantha Mannix and Kareem Allaf are a combined 7-2 at the No. 1 position this season, which has helped keep the men’s and women’s tennis teams to an undefeated record headed into this weekend.

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Allaf, Mannix look to keep pushing Hawkeye tennis to wins

Iowa's Samantha Mannix serves the ball during a women's tennis match between Iowa and Northern Texas on Sunday, January 20, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Mean Green, 5-2.

Iowa's Samantha Mannix serves the ball during a women's tennis match between Iowa and Northern Texas on Sunday, January 20, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Mean Green, 5-2.

Jenna Galligan

Iowa's Samantha Mannix serves the ball during a women's tennis match between Iowa and Northern Texas on Sunday, January 20, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Mean Green, 5-2.

Jenna Galligan

Jenna Galligan

Iowa's Samantha Mannix serves the ball during a women's tennis match between Iowa and Northern Texas on Sunday, January 20, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Mean Green, 5-2.

Cody Smith, Sports Reporter

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The spring season resumes for both tennis teams as they are set to return to action this weekend at home in the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center after having the last weekend off.

The men’s team comes into this week riding a five-match win streak. It is set up with big test, going up against Miami (5-2) at 3 p.m. on Friday and finishing the weekend on Sunday with Utah (5-2) at 11 a.m.

Knowing it is playing against two strong opponents that made the NCAA Tournament last year, head coach Ross Wilson is looking for junior Kareem Allaf to continue his brilliant success to the start the season. Allaf has started the season 4-1 at the No. 1 singles position, which has helped lead the Hawkeyes to their best start in five seasons.

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Shivansh Ahuja
Iowa’s Kareem Allaf chips a backhand during a men’s tennis matchup between Iowa and Butler on Sunday, January 27, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 5-2.

“For us, [Allaf] is probably the best No. 1 singles player we’ve put out there in five years,” Wilson said. “We feel confident with him and I think the team does as well. So he’s had a great year so far.”

Allaf earned the number one starting spot after strong showings this past fall season which included a victory in the ITA Central Regional Tournament, and he hasn’t looked back.

The junior is also undefeated with senior Jonas Larsen in the No. 1 doubles position, going 5-0.

Additionally, he has dropped just one match in No. 1 singles after a tough third-set tiebreaker heartbreaker to Butler. The wins have earned Allaf a No. 89 singles ranking by the International Tennis Association.

“At top spots, it’s all about mental toughness,” Allaf said. “I’ve really improved mentally over the past couple of years and that’s allowed me to play better players at a higher level and has allowed me to have more success.”

As for the women, they return home after picking up wins in New Hampshire two weekends ago. The women Hawkeyes are also set to remain perfect after going 4-0 to start the season, hosting Iowa State on Friday and DePaul on Saturday.

And just like the men’s squad with Allaf, the women’s team’s early success can be dedicated to the incredible play by Samantha Mannix at the No. 1 positon.

The true freshman has taken a lead role on the team after starting her first spring season 3-1 in singles and 2-1 in doubles action.

Mannix was a high recruit coming into to Iowa winning all 114 of her high school matches. This past fall, she had some strong showings in the ITA Central Regionals Tournament and Las Vegas Invitational, which earned her the No .1 spot.

“She’s been great for us in so many ways,” head coach Sasha Schmid said. “We definitely put a challenge in front of her when we put her in at the No. 1 singles and doubles position. But she has not been intimated by any challenge that she has encountered.”

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