Rising to the top
Sept. 18, 2013
IOWA CITY, IOWA - - While University of Iowa men's tennis player Jonas Dierckx may be 4,300 miles away from his home in Belgium, the senior lends much of his tennis success to his training back home. Dierckx spends his breaks back in Belgium playing in as many tournaments as possible to get him prepared for the start of tennis season back on campus.
"Those tournaments help me a lot," said Dierckx. "They get me into a good rhythm, and once I really get into it, I start playing better and better."
UI head coach Steve Houghton echoes Dierckx's remarks and feels that the senior benefits from the preseason training.
"That [playing in tournaments over summer] has a lot to do with his success," said Houghton. "He's worked hard during the summer so when he gets back in the fall he is starting at a high level."
The team hopes that Dierckx's success this past offseason translates into another positive season on the courts. Diercks led the team last year with a 19-18 overall record in singles play, all while playing the best of the Big Ten from the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. The success was not limited to singles play, as Dierckx posted a 12-6 doubles record with teammate Matt Hagan, and a 6-4 record with Juan Estenssoro.
Houghton credits Dierckx's success to the way the senior prepares for each season.
"He's gotten his game to a point where he is really competitive in the Big Ten, playing like a No. 1 or No. 2," said Houghton. "He's done it the old fashioned way, hard work and work ethic."
Dierckx says that the key to successful senior campaign will be to focus on his good points during play and to try and make them better. Bad points aren't common, so he will have to earn a point, rather than have his opponent give him anything.
"No one really has bad points anymore so I am focusing on my strengths and that will be important this year," said Dierckx. "With my height, my service is also very important to me."
For Houghton, Dierckx needs to find a way to create easier scoring plays for himself. Instead of grinding out long rallies, as was the case last year, Houghton hopes that Dierckx can make things easier on himself, and that starts with the serve.
"He wins most of his points grinding and grinding points from the baseline," said Houghton. "He needs to get more out of his serve to get a few easy points that way."
If Dierckx can build off the success he had last season, the sky is the limit on his potential and what he can accomplish in his final year with the Hawkeyes.
"I'm trying to play the best I can, there is nothing else that I can do," said Dierckx. "I'm hoping to make the NCAAs as an individual and as a team, while having a positive record in the Big Ten."