Men’s tennis defeats Nebraska to cap tennis’ 3-1 weekend

Iowa tennis won three of its four matches this weekend as the women split with in-state foes and the men beat both VCU and Nebraska.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Jason Kerst hits a backhand during a men’s tennis match between Iowa and Texas Tech at the HTRC on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. The Red Raiders defeated the Hawkeyes, 4-3.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter


Hawkeye senior Jason Kerst plays a style of tennis that lends itself to long points — which leads to long games, long sets, and recently, long matches.

His abbreviated three-set loss to Patrick Cacciatore of Nebraska didn’t affect the outcome of Iowa’s 5-2 win over the Cornhuskers to open Big Ten play at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center yesterday — but his marathon victory on Feb. 29 won the Hawkeyes the match against VCU.

With the score tied at three, the battle between the Hawkeyes and Rams came down to the showdown on court six featuring Kerst and Timo Zgraggen. Kerst fought until the bitter end, with both players having numerous opportunities to win the match. In the end, the Ann Arbor, Michigan, native prevailed in a classic dual that went the distance and included tiebreakers in both the second and final sets. He won 6-3, 6-7, 7-6.

“It was definitely tough,” Kerst said. “I had some chances there in the second set but that’s something I’ve been prepared for. I’ve had a lot of close matches this season though non-conference, so I knew that if I could stay with him and keep that third set tight that I could probably pull though in the end.”

At the end of the match, it seemed as if it would simply never end as the rallies between the players lasted for what seemed like an eternity.

“I’m used to playing the long rallies,” Kerst said. “It’s kind of always been my game style, but I mean, when some of those rallies are ten-plus shots, they have momentum attached to them that one point can roll into three or four, so those are really crucial.”

RELATED: Women’s tennis outlasts Kansas State in marathon

The Feb. 29 match was Kerst’s eleventh of the spring campaign. He has a record of 6-4 after Sunday’s dual with Nebraska, and two of his contests have gone unfinished. Of his finished matches, four of them have gone to three sets, and he is 3-1 in such matches.

The Hawkeye men followed up their 4-3 victory over VCU with a decisive 5-2 win over the Cornhuskers to open Big Ten play.

Head coach Ross Wilson was impressed by his team’s energy after they had to take the court for the Sunday match with minimal rest after their non-conference battle.

“We don’t play a lot of matches back-to-back,” Wilson said. “We usually have a day off in between, so for our guys to be able to come out today less than 24 hours after our pretty emotional win and have that same energy and fight and competitiveness, that was huge.”

The women’s team lost a closely contested match, 4-3, at Iowa State on Feb. 28 but came back home to face Northern Iowa at home on Feb. 29 and overwhelmed the Panthers, winning 7-0 without dropping a single set.

“It’s always great to be at home and to get a win, especially after the emotional match we had last night and falling short,” head coach Sasha Schmid said following the Feb. 29 match. “It kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth and it’s nice to get a win so that you can regroup and move forward.

“We need a couple days off, and then we’ve got a really important stretch on the road, three very important Big Ten matches: Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue.”

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