Two weekends ago at the Drake Fall Invitational, the entire Bulldogs’ doubles teams lost to University of Northern Iowa competition. This past weekend, the Drake women’s tennis team traveled to Waterloo, Iowa, in search of a little revenge.
On Sunday, the doubles team of sophomore Manca Krizman and junior Jessica Aguilera capped off a weekend of solid doubles with a powerful victory over UNI’s Jessica Kunzelmann and Chelsea Moore in the finals of the Gold Flight. Not only was it a victory for the Bulldogs, but also the 8-4 score was a much needed confidence boost for a squad that has been trying to improve its doubles results since last year.
Not only was it an impressive Sunday victory, but a strong doubles tournament overall. Krizman and Aguilera posted decisive victories over all their opponents, including teams from Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri.
“We beat Iowa in the semis,” Aguilera said. “They are a strong team and that was really motivating for us.”
Impressively, this was the first time Aguilera and Krizman had teamed up in doubles, as Krizman and junior Gabby Demos fill the usual pairing at the first doubles slot. The entire team had spent the last two weeks practicing a more offensive and fluid form of doubles, stressing moving together as a team at the net as well as the baseline. The Bulldogs are hoping that the confidence brought upon Krizman and Aguilera’s win will translate to all the other doubles teams.
“I don’t think we will keep being doubles partners,” Aguilera said of Krizman. “Manca and Gabby are a good combination, they have been playing together for more than a year now and they can be a strong number one doubles.”
Aguilera continued her strong play on Sunday in singles as well, where she reached the final of the Silver Flight consolation draw on the strength of a straight-set win over South Dakota State’s Brooke Henry. Aguilera was in rhythm throughout the entire match, denying her opponent any sort of rhythm as she won every game in the 6-0, 6-0 match.
“I just played smart,” she said. “I didn’t let my opponent play her game.”
Due to rain throughout the weekend, the consolation final between Aguilera and Northern Illinois’ Kelly Phillips was not contested.
Also in action on Sunday was junior Earlynn Lauer, who finished an impressive weekend with a victory over the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Beth Ganser in the consolation draw of the Bronze Flight. Continuing her weekend’s habit of posting straight-set wins, Lauer defeated Ganser 6-3, 6-4.
“We played tough on Sunday and were better prepared for the last day of the event than they were at the Drake Invite,” said Head Coach Paul Thomson.
The Bulldog squad is looking forward to the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Individuals tournament which begins Oct. 8 in Normal, Ill. The tournament is being hosted by the Illinois State Redbirds.
“I think the more matches we play, the more confident we feel,” Lauer said. “Even some of our losses this weekend were helpful in seeing how far we can push ourselves and improve during a match.”
Photo: File Photo