March 2020

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35 T he University of Iowa men's tennis team has defended the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex (HTRC) with all hands on deck over the last past three seasons. is year the Hawkeyes are doing the same, winning eight of their first nine matches at home. Iowa is coming off of one of its most impressive seasons in school history, boasting 18 wins with a program-best 14 coming at home. A year ago, Iowa knocked off three ranked Big Ten foes, two at home (No. 19 Michigan, No. 30 Penn State). Once again, Iowa will face a challenging schedule, including 14 opponents who were ranked in the Top 70 in last year's final ITA Rankings. Iowa will host six more matches at the HTRC this year, beginning March 20 against Minnesota. "Where you practice every day has an effect on how you play," said Ross Wilson, Mellecker Family Head Men's Tennis Coach. "It's a huge deal. We're familiar here and that's where we play our best tennis." Iowa is 35-9 (.752) over the past three years, a program best winning percentage. e home court isn't the same for all college sports, and the Hawkeyes have found success in Iowa City. "When we go to the same place every day, that's where we feel most comfortable. It's a lot less stress on our guys when they're staying in their apartments or dorms," Wilson said. You cannot underestimate the benefit of routine. When you eat at the same places, drive to the same places, and wake up at the same time for each match, it can improve your performance on and off the court. Life isn't as easy on the road. "You're taking connecting flights, driving rental cars, dealing with cancellations, and you still have to play a tennis match where you need to get used to the speed of the court, the lighting, and some cases the altitude," said Wilson. ere are a lot of variables when the primary focus of the trip should be the match, but that isn't possible all the time; the Hawkeye student-athletes still need to stay on top of their academics. Iowa looks to hold serve at home with five more Big Ten matches at the HTRC with hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. "We have a good opportunity to win every match that we play at home," Wilson said. "At the beginning of the season, we put a huge emphasis on scheduling tough opponents at our place. Obviously, with our Big Ten schedule this is the year, we will have six home matches." e last five Big Ten opponents are ranked in the Top 70 in the country, which should make for an exciting finish to the season. MARCH SCHEDULE March 20 Minnesota March 22 at Wisconsin March 27 at Penn State March 29 at Ohio State

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