By Jake Markowitz
The Iowa men’s tennis team will try to get back in the win column when it faces Denver at noon (MST) on Feb. 19.
The Hawkeyes (5-3) are coming off a 5-2 loss to Oregon last weekend. A team with plenty of talent across the board, the Ducks have the No. 33 ranked singles player and No. 38 and No. 51 ranked doubles pairs.
“We are very confident right now and are going into every match with a legitimate chance to win,” Iowa freshman Jason Kerst said.
Denver (2-4) had lost four straight matches before ending its losing streak with a trouncing of South Dakota State, 7-0. The Pioneers dominated in singles play with all six players capturing straight-set wins. It took a mere hour and 44 minutes for Denver to secure the win in the Summit League opener.
This will be another opponent of the Hawkeyes with some firepower — Denver has the No. 34 doubles pair, made up of seniors Yannik James and Alex Gasson. This week James was named Summit League Player of the Week, the third such honor of his career and first of this season. James teamed with Gasson for a 6-0 victory on the doubles court and defeated South Dakota State’s Marco Paulo Castro in singles (6-3, 6-2).
“Denver is a very important match for our team,” junior Josh Silverstein said. “I would consider them our best win of the season last year, so we definitely want to beat them again.”
The win last year against then-No. 40 Denver came at a time when the Hawkeyes were riding the momentum of two-game winning streak and were ranked No. 43. Recently, Iowa has had a hard time putting such a streak together. After starting the season with three-consecutive wins, the Hawkeyes have split their last six matches. Coming off a loss, Iowa will hope to continue that trend and capture its sixth win of the season.
Iowa is taking a 1-1 road record to Denver to will face a Pioneers team that is yet to lose at home.
“It will be tough playing at Denver at their home facility, but I am confident that if we compete well as a team that we will win,” Silverstein said.
It will be important for Iowa to secure a win this week to fully enjoy its 12 days off until its final two matches before conference plays begins on March 5. Putting an end to the back and forth results and beginning a winning streak will be vital for the Hawkeyes for creating momentum.
“We are practicing very hard each day leading into the Denver match, and I know it will pay off,” Silverstein said.