Iowa men’s tennis keeps routine in an unconventional fall

The Hawkeyes started competing in men’s open tournaments in early October.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa head coach Ross Wilson watches his team 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.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

With the absence of a fall season, the Iowa men’s tennis team has set out on their own to find outside competition.

The entirety of the roster has already competed in men’s open events in Iowa and Illinois this fall and will continue to do so leading up to the start of the spring season.

With different players competing in different tournaments this fall, Iowa’s practice schedule for the following week can be diverse depending on how many matches someone played in the previous weekend.

“It depends on how their body feels, and I kind of let them deal with that,” said head men’s tennis coach Ross Wilson. “If guys play on a Sunday then we are definitely going to give them Monday off, and if they feel like they need another day or two than that is totally fine with me.”

Wilson said the fall is usually a grind of near daily practices, trying to improve on parts of its game to prepare for the spring season.

However, in a typical year where the Hawkeyes have a set fall season including Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional and national events along with the Big Ten indoor event, the team would still make sure to rest properly to prevent injuries

“Based on the travel and the type of grueling matches that they would have in that tournament for each player, we would kind of go case by case and say ‘Hey you take this day off or these two days off,’” Wilson said.  “For the most part the fall is pretty much a grind with practice.”

After a long absence from competition that started in March because of the pandemic, some of the Hawkeyes returned to the court in a Universal Tennis Rating event in Urbandale, Iowa, the weekend of Oct. 7.

All of the Iowa competitors won their first matches and Oliver Okonkwo managed to make it all the way to the finals.

Wilson said he’s very happy with the initiative his players have shown to get out there and play in these tournaments, and he feels good about the way his team is playing after such a long layoff.

“You can practice as much as you want, but you have to be able to go out there and do it in a competition,” Wilson said. “Just the fact that they got out there and got a couple of matches in in a competitive situation, I think it is good to be able to feel those nerves again and have to execute under pressure.”

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This fall has given a lot of individual responsibility to the players, as the coaching staff provided them with a list of tournaments in the area leading all the way into January and gave them the option of which events to sign up for individually.

Three of the Hawkeyes including Alam, Rudra Dixit, and Nikita Snezhko will be competing in a Universal Tennis Rating event in Urbandale, Iowa, this weekend.

“I think it is important to keep these guys in a routine and do a lot of the same things that we do week in and week out,” Wilson said. “For how we do it, it is good because we end up competing a lot at the end of the week and playing a lot of sets on Thursday and Friday which is usually leading up to a tournament.”