116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - The Iowa men's tennis team is rounding out a season in which it has more conference matches than in the previous four seasons combined.
Iowa (12-8) holds a 4-5 Big Ten Conference record with wins over Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue and, most recently, Nebraska. The Hawkeyes' four wins come after seasons in which they won one, two and zero games twice dating back to 2011 season.
Interim coach Ross Wilson, who served as an assistant last year, points to the team's skillful youth and scheduling.
'As far as what has made us better, number one is recruiting,” Wilson said. 'We recruited four real good ones last year and three of the four have won the most matches on the team. Also, we've played a better schedule. We haven't had very many easy games, putting ourselves in some tough environments, which in the long run makes us better.”
The competent freshman class includes Jake Jacoby, who came to Iowa as a five-star recruit from Little Rock, Ark. One of the team's top performers in singles matches, Jacoby said atmosphere is a reason for the turnaround.
'My time so far on this team has been great,” Jacoby said. 'Some of the older guys have told me stories that this year's team has been the most together and had the most chemistry that they've seen, and I really believe it. I can just feel it. Everyone gets along really well and I know it's cliche, but it's like a second family to me and it has really helped me get better at tennis.”
On Friday, Iowa hosts No. 11 Ohio State, where Wilson was a two-time All-American and three-time ITA national doubles champion from 2002-06. He broke the Buckeyes' overall career wins record, career doubles wins record and single season doubles wins record in 2006.
Wilson shrugs at the game being special to him, however, and said the match is more about just facing a good opponent.
'It's nice to play Ohio State,” he said. 'For the guys, it's playing one of the best teams in the country and a Big Ten powerhouse. It'll be nice to see where were at and see what we need to do to get to that level.
'But, for me, it's more about what we do as a team. I won't get too caught up in it. I know these guys, the coaches, but it's really just another good team that we play. Our freshmen are really experienced now. It'll be good to see what we can do against the number 10 team in the country.”