By Lauren Jimmerson
The Iowa men’s tennis team dropped its second match in the Big Ten Tournament on April 27 at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex. The Hawkeyes fell, 4-0, to No. 1 seed Ohio State for the second time this season.
For only the eighth time this year, Iowa lost the doubles point. The Buckeyes claimed the victory (6-2) over Kareem Allaf and Jonas Larsen. Will Davies and Piotr Smietana fell to Ohio State’s 54th-ranked tandem (6-3), and Jake Jacoby and Joe Tyler were trailing when the match was suspended.
Even after dropping the doubles point, head coach Ross Wilson still believed the squad performed well.
“I thought coming out in doubles, obviously, No. 3 doubles came out ready to go,” he said. “They got up, and [had an] early break, and were serving four out of five when the doubles point got stopped. [We] were up on an early break at 2 as well, just couldn’t hold it there. And 1, I think it just got away from us. We have played so well at No. 1 doubles all year, it’s just really tough to lean on a team when they have won 19 matches at that spot.”
Ohio State entered the weekend boasting five nationally ranked singles players, led by fifth-ranked Mikael Torpegaard playing No. 1 in the Buckeye lineup.
Following him are No. 40 JJ Wolf, No. 95 Kyle Seeling, No. 101 John McNally, and No. 110 Martin Joyce.
After they handed the Buckeyes an early lead, Wilson challenged the Hawkeyes to return in singles.
“Going into the singles I told the guys, let’s see what happens when we get to four-all, five-all sets, and the guys accepted that challenge and really did well,” he said.
Wolf quickly shut out Smietana, sweeping the Iowa freshman in straight sets. Shortly after, Tyler fell in straight sets to McNally. Joyce clinched the match for the Buckeyes, prevailing over Davies (6-3, 6-4).
Allaf entered the weekend undefeated in conference matches. The redshirt sophomore claimed a tiebreak victory in the first set one and was leading in the second when the match was clinched. Larsen dropped his first set and was trailing in the second when the match ended.
Josh Silverstein battled in a close match against Torpegaard. The Iowa senior entered a tiebreaker but could not follow through on his serves.
“One of the things [Silverstein] struggles with is his first serve,” Wilson said. “If he’s out there, and he’s really into it, and he’s got great energy, he’s such a good competitor and can create so much momentum as the match goes on.”
The Buckeye ultimately claimed the first set, but Silverstein pushed back to gain a 2-1 lead when Ohio State clinched the match.
Overall, Wilson is discouraged by the loss but remains content with the progress he has seen this year.
“I know we lost some [close] sets, but we were right in there and able to win it. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way, but Ohio State is a great team,” he said. “We’ve made some great strides this year, and I’m just really happy with where we’re at and with what we have coming back.”
The Buckeyes went on to capture their third-consecutive Big Ten Tournament Championship on Sunday, sweeping Illinois in the final match. Ohio State has now won eight tournament championships.