Iowa tennis’ home weekend yields two victories

Iowa tennis finished 2-1 combined as the men’s team won both of their contests and the women dropped their match to Colorado.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Ashleigh Jacobs hits a forehand during a women’s tennis match between Iowa and Colorado at the HTRC on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The Buffaloes defeated the Hawkeyes, 4-3.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter


Despite dropping the first doubles match Feb. 14 in a dual contest against Middle Tennessee State, the Hawkeye men’s tennis team stretched its win streak to six matches, coming away with a 4-2 victory at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center.

After the opening loss, a 6-4 defeat for the pair of Matt Clegg and Joe Tyler, Iowa snatched the doubles point from Middle Tennessee State as Kareem Allaf and Nikita Snezhko won their match 6-1. On the court one, Iowa closed out the first point in the best-of-seven match.

The doubles contest on court one featured two of the nation’s top duos. The Hawkeyes’ pair of Oliver Okonkwo and Will Davies are ranked No. 10 in the country. They faced off against the visiting pair of Pavel Motl and Stijin Slump, who are the 20th best doubles team in the nation.

A back and forth match that featured many breaks of serve and swings in momentum ended in a 7-5 triumph for the Hawkeyes and secured the doubles point.

“The doubles point is a whole point, but it gives you so much more than that,” Okonkwo said. “It gives you a lot of momentum, it gave me a lot of confidence going into the singles. Me and Will have had a little bit of a rough start on the season, so to come back from two breaks down twice, unbelievable from us. It’s a massive load of confidence.”

Okonkwo’s singles battle with Stump ended in a victory for the Hawkeye sophomore after three hard-fought sets, including a tiebreaker in the first.

“One thing I’ve been really trying to work on is my mental [game], because that’s one thing that lets me down quite a lot,” Okonkwo said. “I was just trying to keep a clear head, and one thing that is really important for me is not to think, ‘We’re going to stay calm,’ but to think, ‘How am I going to win this next point, and how am I going to build it?’”

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Okonkwo’s triumph was the one that gave Iowa its fourth overall point and clinched the match. Iowa also counted singles victories from Davies and Allaf.

The Hawkeye men picked up right where they left off on Sunday when they welcomed Wichita State to the HTRC.

Iowa couldn’t earn the doubles point but instead won four of the six singles competitions to take the overall match over the Shockers.

After losing the doubles point, Iowa was defeated in the first singles match to go down 2-0 — but they won the last four matches of the day.

“Our guys just hung in there, and they fought hard,” men’s head coach Ross Wilson said. “We just hung in there, and we got three wins from Oliver [Okonkwo], Will, and Jason [Kerst]. Then, Joe [Tyler] was able to step up and get it done in the third [set].”

The Iowa women faced off against Colorado on Sunday morning and couldn’t defeat the Buffalos after falling behind early.

Colorado got the doubles point then rattled off three singles victories to win the match.

“We have been on the short side of four nonconference 4-3 losses,” women’s head coach Sasha Schmid. “In all of those we have lost the doubles point, so it really is so key that we start to focus on trying to turn around some doubles. Obviously, I always think there are some chances in singles to make it turn, but, boy, getting the doubles point would really change some things for us.”

Iowa put up quite the fight as the 4-3 final score included singles wins from Michelle Bacalla, Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell, and Danielle Bauers.

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