Dec. 24, 2013
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's December edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department's online publication.
By DAN WALLACE
For Brian Alden, his final year of collegiate tennis provides him an opportunity to write the final chapter of his story. The year is a chance for a fresh start, a chance to prove people wrong, and most importantly, an opportunity to go out on top.
Alden, a redshirt senior out of Barrington, Ill., is with his third school after stops at Illinois and Florida State. Out of high school, Alden visited Iowa, but never really considered becoming a Hawkeye at the time.
"When I was in high school, my sister went to Iowa, so I came out a lot to visit," said Alden. "I loved the school and I got to know Coach Houghton really well, but never really considered coming here."
When things didn't work out at Florida State, Alden considered dropping the sport, and simply finish up school down in Tallahassee. Alden realized, however, that he wanted to keep playing, which is when he turned to Iowa.
"I wanted to keep playing and I wanted to give Iowa a chance if they would give me a spot on the team," said Alden. "I talked to Coach Houghton and he said he would take me. I had known since the first time I met him that he was genuine, and he really helped me out a lot."
Alden joined the program in the fall of 2012, but due to NCAA transfer rules, had to sit out the entire 2012-13 campaign. He would be able to practice with the team, and be around them on a constant basis. However, once the first match arrived, Alden was forced to watch from the sidelines. He knew he could have helped the team, but was not able.
"It was frustrating to work hard all week and be ready to go and then have to sit out every match," said Alden. "Having to sit the whole year was tough, but I knew if I worked hard then this year would pay off."
Alden posted a 5-5 record in singles action this fall, including winning three consecutive matches at the ITA Regional tournament as well as two in a row at the Big Ten Singles and Doubles tournament. Alden now turns his attention to the spring season, his final semester of tennis, as a chance to make a statement and to finish what he started.
Coming out of high school, Alden was a highly-touted athlete. A five-star recruit, according to tennisrecruiting.net, and being ranked as high as No. 55 nationally and third in the state of Illinois, Alden was given high expectations by those around him. He hopes to use those expectations as motivation to a successful senior campaign.
"I came to Iowa so I could go out on a high note. I didn't want to end my college career like at Florida State," said Alden. "I want to help lead this program in an upward direction and have a really good year. I want to show a lot of people in the Big Ten that when I was a recruit, that I actually was a good recruit and wasn't a bust or didn't work hard."
Alden believes that this spring season could be great for the team. The key will be to get off to a strong start and collect victories early. The confidence from early wins, says Alden, will be big for the Hawkeyes.
"I hope to bring a lot of energy to the team and to be someone that is entertaining to watch and help pick up the team," said Alden. "In order for us to have a big year, I'll have to step up and I know that. It's tough to have pressure like that, but it's pressure you want."