April 7, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By DAN WALLACE
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa sophomore Dominic Patrick doesn't have any ties to the University of Iowa or the Midwest, which makes his path to the UI men's tennis program an oddity.
"I emailed (UI head coach Steve) Houghton and a few other Big Ten schools on a whim, and it took off from there," said Patrick, a native of Gilbert, Ariz. "I thought the academics were good and loved the campus and team. We have made it a long way from where we started."
As a freshman, Patrick had his share of ups-and-downs, similar to what many freshmen deal with in their first year with the program. He posted a 15-18 record, playing primarily in the No. 5 singles position.
Coming into the 2013-14 season, Patrick had to adjust to a new coach with Ross Wilson joining the staff as an assistant coach. Wilson brings a new style of play and a different mindset that has paid dividends for the Hawkeyes, but Patrick may be the biggest beneficiary.
Through 18 matches this spring, he has posted a 13-4 record. He is 3-0 at the No. 3 position, 4-0 at No. 4, and 6-4 at No. 5. Patrick has already surpassed his conference record from a year ago, posting a 4-2 mark in Big Ten play, including three-straight league victories.
"It has a lot to do with taking what coach Wilson says, his view on the game, and adapting to the way he wants me to play," said Patrick. "He was successful as a player, so if we take what he has to say and put it in action, it will give us a chance to be successful."
Patrick's efforts haven't gone unnoticed from his family. Even though his parents live 1,500 miles away, Patrick always has two family members in his corner for all of Iowa's home matches; his grandparents. Bill and Shirley Patrick make the two-hour drive from Rochelle, Ill., for every home match they can.
"They bring me food which is nice. I got cookies the last time they came, which was great," Patrick said with a laugh. "It's awesome to have them here. They didn't get to see me grow up and play, but now they get to see the finished result, which is special."
For Patrick's grandparents, they wouldn't miss his matches for the world.
"We love being able to come over and watch him play," said Bill Patrick. "He's a great kid, and we are a close family that always stays in contact. A little family always helps in matches."
Patrick says his grandparents are good luck charms, and he has a point; as they have yet to see their grandson lose. In Patrick's l victory over Indiana, Shirley was seen crossing her fingers during a decisive third-set tiebreaker, which Patrick won, 10-7.
Patrick has grown since his freshman season, and his efforts are being rewarded. His good luck charms can watch their grandson improve as a person and player, his team has a consistent contributor, and everyone has benefited from Patrick's whim of an email.
The Hawkeyes return to action Wednesday, hosting Nebraska in a Big Ten dual beginning at 4:30 p.m. (CT) at the HTRC.