Rudra Dixit stands out for Iowa men’s tennis in men’s open event

Three Hawkeyes competed in a men’s open tournament in Des Moines over the weekend.

Iowa%27s+Nikita+Snezhko+hits+a+backhand+during+a+men%27s+tennis+match+between+Iowa+and+Nebraska-Omaha+at+the+HTRC+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+25%2C+2020.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Mavericks%2C+6-1.+

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Nikita Snezhko hits a backhand during a men’s tennis match between Iowa and Nebraska-Omaha at the HTRC on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Mavericks, 6-1.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter


Three Hawkeyes took the court at a Universal Tennis Rating prize money event in Des Moines this past weekend.

Freshman Peter Alam and Sophomore Nikita Snezhko each won one match to advance to the quarterfinals of the main draw and freshman Rudra Dixit ended the weekend with a semifinal finish after winning two matches.

Dixit came into the tournament with the lowest Universal Tennis Rating out of the Hawkeyes that competed and faced the hardest draw. He won his first match against Nebraska junior Patrick Cacciatore, 6-4, 7-5.

“I have a big serve, and I have a very aggressive game style, so against him, I was just trying to make sure that I was always on offense,” Dixit said. “I didn’t want to give him a chance to feel comfortable.”

Dixit then went on to face Alam in the quarterfinals and was able to defeat his teammate in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Dixit said Alam was the only player he hadn’t faced in competitive sets during practice leading up to the match.

“I have a hard time playing against my friends, and I always have, but I just tried to tell myself that there are no friends on the court,” Dixit said. “I just tried to make sure that I was playing on my terms the whole time, and I did not want to give him any opportunities to be aggressive because our game styles really clash.”

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In the semifinals, Dixit played Ben Lott, a former Drake University player who is an assistant coach for its men’s tennis team. Lott took down Iowa sophomore Oliver Okonkwo in the championship of an event in early October and did the same against Dixit, 6-1, 6-2.

Alam won his first match of the tournament against a sophomore from Nebraska-Omaha, Ben Starman. He was able to move through each set pretty easily, finishing him off by a 6-4, 6-2, margin.

After the disappointing loss to his teammate in the quarterfinals, Alam bounced back in his Sunday bonus match and defeated Cacciatore in a 10-7, tiebreaker in the third set.

“[Dixit’s] serve that day was really good, and I barely had a chance to break,” Alam said. “[The coaches] kept talking to me about the mentality of bouncing back, and I made sure to keep that in the back of my mind for the next match.”

Snezhko remained on the other side of the bracket during the event, beating a three-star recruit from Ankeny, Iowa, Will Blevins, in his first match. He won the first set in a 7-4 tiebreaker and the second set, 6-4.

“It was my first match since March, so it was tough being out there and competing again for the first time in a while,” Snezhko said. “Mentally, I started off the match kind of slow, and then I ended up using my mental toughness to get through the tough times.”

The Plymouth, Minnesota, native then went on to face a Drake competitor of his own, Reid Jarvis, where he came up short, 7-5, 6-3. Snezhko was unable to bounce back in his Sunday bonus match, losing to Nebraska-Omaha sophomore, Julian Kenzlers, 6-3, 6-4.

“I think [Jarvis] had been playing a couple more tournaments than I had, so he has some matches under his belt, and being my first good matchup in a while was kind of tough,” Snezhko said. “[Kenzlers] had a little bit less firepower than Reid, so it was basically me dictating play, and I just didn’t execute well enough and it slipped away.”

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