This past Sunday, Drake senior Mauricio Ballivian won his first match before losing to Missouri Valley Conference rival Alexander Pelaez of Illinois State in the pre-qualifying round of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s All-American Championships. The tournament was filled with the nation’s top players, and despite his loss before the main draw, Ballivian has learned a lot from his matches in Tulsa, Okla.
The first match of the day pitted Ballivian against Benjamin Chomette of Old Dominion. Ballivian made quick work of Chomette with a 6-3, 6-0 victory.
“He was better than the guy and just took care of business,” Head Coach Evan Austin said. “He played pretty confidently.”
The next match against Pelaez proved to be much more difficult, as the powerful Redbird player was able to wear down Ballivian. Ballivian found himself losing the aggressiveness he played with in Sunday’s first match. Austin believed that he played too much into his opponent’s game and didn’t impose his own game against the player across the net. Ballivian was able to take the first set off Pelaez, 7-5, but lost the next two sets, 4-6.
“He needs a little more of an attacking style of play,” Austin said. “He was definitely able to do it in spurts, though.”
Austin believes that Ballivian will be able to learn from this match, both tactically and physically. Ballivian is hoping to improve both his backhand and fitness before the arrival of the spring season.
“I hope I face this player again,” he said. “I’ll be prepared and do the right things; [I] definitely need to be more aggressive with my backhand.”
Ballivian and the Bulldogs will participate in the Intercollegiate Central Regional tournament starting on Oct. 21 in Norman, Okla. The tournament will include the best players from Oklahoma, Minnesota, Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Wichita State and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“The All-American tournament is basically everyone, all the top guys in the country,” Austin said. “We will see a lot of ranked guys in the central regional though, and I want to continue to [play] the best players because I think they can beat them.”
Photo: File photo