Petrov looks to be an immediate impact player for Iowa men’s tennis

The freshman is a highly anticipated talent in the final season of the program.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Joe Tyler prepares to serve during a men’s tennis match between Iowa and Creighton at the HTRC on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

With the program coming to an end after the spring 2021 season, the Hawkeye men’s tennis team has its sights set on going out strong.

Alexander Petrov, an exciting freshman from Irvine, California, is expected to play a key role for the team this year.

Petrov is a five-star recruit and a top-five U.S. Tennis Association 18s player in the Southern California area. He has a 29-18 career International Tennis Federation juniors record with an ITF junior doubles title in the 2019 J4 Edmonton tournament.

“Hopefully I can get off to a good start,” Petrov said. “I’m sure the guys are going to be super fired up this season just because it is our last, so I am going to try to feed off of that energy as much as possible.”

Petrov has a career-high youth national ranking of No. 22 and also carries a winning record against other five-star recruits heading into college.

The son of two Bulgarian parents, Petrov moved around from New York to Florida and then to Southern California at age 15, where he is currently taking online classes for the university and playing weekend tournaments until he arrives in Iowa in December.

Because Florida and Southern California are two of the hotspots for top competition in U.S. tennis, Petrov has beaten some of the top junior tennis players over the course of his career.

“In California, when you have high-level guys pushing you, you’re going to improve,” Petrov said. “During [COVID-19], what is really nice is, where I live, we have a couple of clubs making UTR events and sanctioned events that aren’t a part of USTA or ITF.”

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Petrov’s journey to Iowa was not a straightforward one. He reached out to head men’s tennis coach Ross Wilson about a year into his recruiting process with little knowledge about the program.

“I contacted Ross not knowing anything about Iowa at all,” Petrov said. “He flew out to California to watch me play, he was impressed, and things worked out, which was pretty surprising because I didn’t think I would ever get to a program like Iowa’s.”

Wilson has compared Petrov to ITA Central Region Senior Player of Year and the No. 2 player in Iowa history for combined singles and doubles wins, Kareem Allaf.

Petrov said his speed on the court is his greatest physical attribute for beating opponents, something that is comparable to the quick movement Allaf displays when wearing down his competitors. Both players have a unique mental toughness that allows them to grind out important matches.

“I made sure to have a long conversation with Kareem,” Petrov said. “The guy knows so much, and this is going to be his fifth year, so I have just tried to extract everything out of Kareem that I could.”

While he is currently not on the courts in Iowa City with his teammates, the freshman has been in constant contact with them.

The chemistry of an Iowa team going into the last dance with high expectations for them is stronger than ever, and Petrov said that every player is focused on making this season one to remember.

“Obviously, because the men’s team is getting cut next year, that came as such a surprise to us, and we were all so bummed out,” Petrov said. “Everyone is trying to make this last year special — push each other and feed off of the energy.”

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