Oct. 25, 2011
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 BRADY JOHNSON
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa City will host some of the nation's elite tennis players as head coach Steve Houghton and the University of Iowa men's tennis team will host the Big Ten Indoor Singles/Doubles Championship for the first time in program history.
The prestigious conference's fall tournament will be from Oct. 28-31 at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.
With 17 nationally ranked singles players and nine ranked doubles teams, area tennis fans will be in for a treat as Iowa brings some of the nation's top talent to the HTRC. Admission is free of charge.
"This is a great event to host. It's very appealing from a spectator standpoint considering the strength of this conference," said Houghton. "It's exciting for our guys to play in front of a home crowd rather than travel for this, and it's a good opportunity for them to do well against tough competition."
In upwards of 90 competitors will compete at the event. The singles Flight A bracket will be comprised of the Big Ten's top-64 players with additional players being featured in Flight B. The doubles Flight A bracket will feature 16 tandems with additional teams in Flight B. Tournament draws will be announced Wednesday.
A doubles champion will be crowned in the first day of play on Friday while singles play will run from Saturday through Monday.
Iowa will be led by nationally ranked senior Marc Bruche, ranked No. 101, in a singles flight consisting of four players ranked in the top-10. Bruche and fellow senior Will Vasos will look to produce solid results in doubles as the duo is ranked No. 41. There will be five doubles tandems ranked in the top-25 in action.
"There is no doubt that the Big Ten is one of the top two or three conferences out there. There is high level tennis in this conference," said Houghton. "The Big Ten really stands out in depth. From top to bottom, there is great competition here."
It will be the first time Iowa has hosted this tournament in program history. Hosting the event was made possible by the recently constructed Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex, a modern tennis facility consisting of eight indoor courts. The HTRC hosted the 2008 Big Ten Men's Tennis Championships and the 2010 Big Ten Women's Tennis Championships. In 2009, the HTRC received the Iowa Tennis Association Facility of the Year award.
Houghton, the school's all-time winningest men's tennis coach with 331 victories, has hosted three regular season conference championships in his tenure.
"The reason we get to host this now is our old complex wouldn't work, whereas this one is a great venue to host this tournament," said Houghton. "Another positive is that Iowa does a great job hosting these types of events, and it's a great chance to showcase how well we can run it."
It couldn't be more fitting for Houghton and the Hawkeyes to finish the fall season by hosting the event as the team is coming off one of the top fall seasons in program history. Iowa had 43 singles victories so far this season through six events as well as 15 doubles victories.
The season has been highlighted by Bruche becoming the first Hawkeye to reach the singles main draw at the ITA All-American Championships, Bruche and Vasos reaching the doubles finals match at the Baylor-HEB Invitational, posting a 10-1 singles mark at the Drake Invitational and senior Christopher Speer winning 10 straight singles matches with two flight titles.
"This has been one of the best fall seasons in recent memory from my standpoint," said Houghton. "We want to polish this off. I feel like it'd be very appropriate to finish with a strong showing in front of our fans."
Houghton will be looking to get eight Hawkeyes in the tournament including Bruche, Vasos and sophomore Jonas Dierckx, who he views as contenders to earn a flight crown.
Hawkeyesports.com will have complete coverage of the tournament with brackets and recaps posted daily. Visit the tournament page at hawkeyesports.com for more information.