Iowa men’s tennis continue home winning streak against Purdue

Iowa has won its last 12 matches in the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.


Ryan Adams

Iowa’s Jason Kerst celebrates after scoring a point during the Iowa men’s tennis meet v. Purdue at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers with a score of 4-0.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s tennis team added another match to the win column by beating Purdue, 4-0, on Sunday at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

Iowa head coach Ross Wilson’s squad has now won 12 straight matches at home and begun the season 2-0 in conference play.

“We sat down as a team before the season started and looked at our schedule, and we pinpointed certain matches that we needed to win,” junior Will Davies said. “This was definitely one of them, so I am extremely delighted that it was a 4-0 result.”

Iowa has worn blank, red shirts to start the season rather than their traditional black and gold Hawkeye uniforms.

The players wanted to display a sign of unity after the announcement in August that the university would be cutting men’s tennis due to financial problems caused by COVID-19.

“It has been a really tough year with the news being released about the program discontinuation,” senior Jason Kerst said. “This is such a tight group of guys. We consider each other brothers and we are family. So, it’s a sign of unity and a sign that we are going to keep fighting, and I am really happy we proved that this weekend.”

Kerst declined to comment on whether the team had received any feedback from the university about its decision to not wear its traditional uniforms.

Doubles success has been the key for Iowa in the past and it has been no different so far this season.

The No. 17 pair of Davies and junior Oliver Okonkwo was not needed in this one as freshman Peter Alam and junior Joe Tyler took their match, 6-1, and senior Kareem Allaf and sophomore Nikita Snezhko won by the same margin.

“The momentum is huge when we get the doubles point so that is something we emphasize and something we definitely practice,” Kerst said.

Davies is always a vocal presence for the Hawkeyes and his mental toughness is one of the many reasons he has a 50-16 career dual match singles record and won his match on Saturday, 6-3, 6-0. The Norwich, England, native has a habit of trying to get in his opponent’s head and is not afraid to be vocal about the fact that he is outplaying them.

“[Mental toughness], especially in college tennis, I think it’s a massive part of the game,” Davies said. “Especially when things aren’t going as well as you’d like because if you can remain strong mentally, you can almost find a way to win any match.”

As a three-year starter for the Hawkeyes, there were big expectations for Joe Tyler coming into this season. The 6-foot-5-inch junior has not disappointed early, as he has won by large margins in his first two matches.

After his win in doubles, Tyler completely dominated Michael Wozniak in the No. 3 spot and won, 6-1, 6-2.

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“He’s played in every big match since he was a freshman, singles, and doubles,” Wilson said. “He was the No. 2 ranked junior coming out of England. He has always had the potential to be a very good player for us, and he has.”

Kerst’s 6-3, 6-0, win on court five sealed the match for the Hawkeyes.

Kerst has been known as a leader on this Iowa team because of his maturity and experience, but it has been his play so far this season that has led the Hawkeyes.

“Jason is a guy that has worked so hard over the last five-and-a-half years and put everything he had into this team and this program,” Wilson said. “Everything he gets, he deserves.”