This past Saturday, Drake’s top two tennis players, senior Mauricio Ballivian and sophomore James McKie, travelled to Tulsa, Okla., to play in the 2010 D’Novo/ Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships. The ITA All-American Championships is one of the premier collegiate tennis tournaments held every fall, with the top teams and players playing in tournaments in their region. Many nationally ranked players from the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 wait in the main draw of the tournament, with only a couple spots remaining for the qualifying competitors.
On a windy day at the Case Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Tulsa, the two players competed in the pre-qualifying draw, but only Ballivian would win his match.
“It’s incredible to be able to prove something my senior year and to take any opportunity to get big wins and put Drake on top,” Ballivian said.
Both players received a bye in the first round of the pre-qualifying draw, with Ballivian the first Bulldog to take the court. Ballivian went up against Romain Bocaert, a lefty from the University of South Alabama. The heavy wind kept both players defensive throughout the match, but Drake’s top player was able to take the first set, 6-4.
In the second set, Bocaert fought back, taking it by the same 6-4 scoreline. The situation looked grim for Ballivian in the third set when he was down a break of service.
“I expected all the matches to be long and tough,” he said. “I was down a break in the third set, and I fought back; I don’t know how.”
Drake Head Coach Evan Austin was impressed with Ballivian’s ability to play his best tennis when it was most important.
“Mauricio found a way and hung in there like he does,” Austin said. “He was definitely able to pick up his level in the third set.”
Austin believes that Ballivian will need to play more aggressively in his next matches. Austin said that he will have to step up on the baseline and push around opponents with his groundstrokes.
“Players here are experienced and the matches are close all around,” Austin said. “He will have to step up and take control of the matches.”
In the next round, Ballivian will play Ben Chomette from Old Dominion, and The Times-Delphic will have results of that match in the next issue.
In the second Drake match of the day, McKie faced off against Jeremy Tweedt of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. McKie came out of the gates slowly, with Tweedt taking the first set, 6-3. Fighting back into the match, McKie took the second set by a 6-4 margin in what was becoming an incredibly tight match. At last, McKie dropped the finale, 6-2.
“James did a good job of fighting his way back into the match,” Austin said. “It was one of those matches that could have gone either way, but he just lost a few key points.”
Austin believes that McKie will be able to use this match as a learning experience and be better prepared for the ITA Central Regional in Norman, Okla. on Oct. 21. Check back with The Times-Delphic for more information on Ballivian’s results at the ITA All-American Championships.
Photo: Dominic Johnson