Iowa tennis aims to bounce back

After disappointing showings away from home last weekend, both the Iowa men’s and women’s tennis teams will try to regroup.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Adorabol Huckleby hits a backhand during a women's tennis matchup between Iowa and Iowa State at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Friday, February 8, 2019. The Hawkeyes dropped the doubles point but swept singles matches, defeating the Cyclones 4-1.

Cody Smith, Sports Reporter

Both Iowa tennis teams head into the weekend seeking to get back in the victory column.

The women’s team (7-2) will head to Manhattan, Kansas, to face Kansas State in its lone dual match of the weekend on March 2, and the men will hit the road to Lubbock, Texas, to play Texas Tech on March 3.

The Hawkeye women enter the match on their first losing streak of the season after dropping both of their matches last weekend against Northwestern and Penn State.

Now, the focus turns to improvement.

“We have another great opponent on Saturday in Kansas State,” head coach Sasha Schmid said. “The team looks forward to a good competitive match and tough test on the road. We are entering the heart of our season and focused on improving from match-to-match the rest of way.”

Despite the embarrassing 7-0 loss to No. 10 Northwestern the last time out, the Hawkeyes have remained focused and confident.

“I don’t think we dropped down at all in confidence,” Adorabol Huckleby said. “We’ve been playing well all season so far, and I think we just need to start well when we get out to Kansas.”

And the Hawkeyes should be confident, given their history against the Wildcats.

RELATED: Hawkeye tennis gets swept for first time this season

Iowa leads the all-time series, 6-2, and emerged victorious in the most previous matchup in 2015, 4-1.

Additionally, If Iowa has any chance of keeping its undefeated nonconference record intact, it’s going to need Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell and Sophie Clark to stay hot in singles play.

Clark picked up another win against Penn State last weekend, improving her singles record to 7-1 at the No. 4 position. Van Heuvelen Treadwell hasn’t been too shabby, either — the junior is tied with Clark for the team-lead with seven singles wins while dropping just two at the No. 2 spot.

Shivansh Ahuja
Iowa’s Adorabol Huckleby watches the ball against DePaul at the Hawkeye Tennis Complex on Feb. 9. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Demons, 6-1.

The Hawkeye men are coming off just their second loss this season, 5-2 to Cornell on the road last weekend. The Hawkeyes (8-2) are still off to their best start under head coach Ross Wilson.

The Texas Tech matchup will set the tone for Iowa as midseason approaches; the Hawkeyes are scheduled to play four of their next five matches on the road. Given that they have lost their only road match, it’s important for them to come out sharp and secure the doubles point.

“I think the doubles point, for us all season, is always going to be important to get up 1-0, especially on the road,” Wilson said. “Then you only have to split the three singles matches and having to play in someone else’s facility and play in front of their fans. I think [doubles] is going to be pretty important for us against Texas Tech.”

Iowa is just 1-2 all-time against the Red Raiders and will have to go up against one of the best doubles tandems in the country. Texas Tech’s Bjorn Thomson and Parker Wynn are the eighth-ranked doubles pair in the U.S.

“I think our guys believe they are just as good,” Wilson said. “So its going to be a good challenge and great opportunity for them to be able to get a win against a good team and put themselves in the national rankings.”

Iowa will need its top performers to come through in a major way if it hopes to continue its historic start to the season.

The Hawkeyes boast two doubles tandems that are off to hot starts: Will Davies and Oliver Okonkwo are 8-2, and Kareem Allaf and Jonas Larsen are 7-3.

Between doubles and singles, Davies and Okonkwo have a combined record of 32-7 in their first 10 dual matches this season.

Another thing to watch out for is Allaf’s chances of getting another singles victory. Although he is just 6-4 at the No. 1 position, Allaf has a shot to crack Iowa’s top-15 all-time singles win list with victory.

“I feel like I have a lot of matches under my belt,” he said. “And I’m willing to crack the top-five. I think it’s very doable. I just have to focus in practice and keep doing what I’m doing, and hopefully, I can see myself in the top-five leaderboards all-time for singles.”

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