Story by Austin Cannon
Photo by Joel Venzke
On Friday, Drake (7-1) earned its second consecutive victory over a Big 10 school.
The Bulldogs outworked the 2013 Big 10 Champion Cornhuskers.
“We just outcompeted them. We really didn’t do anything special, just everyone played so hard every point, and we never gave up,” said junior Nell Boyd.
Drake set the tone early in doubles play.
Boyd and sophomore Jordan Eggleston won their match 8-3 over Nebraska’s Izabelle Zgierska and Maike Zeppernick.
Sophomore Maddie Johnson and senior Klavdija Rebol put Drake up 1-0, notching a 8-3 victory over Cornhuskers Lisa Anderson and Hannah Sulz.
The match was tied at 1-1 after Zeppernick was able to beat Drake sophomore Lea Kozulic, 6-0, 6-0, on court No. 5.
Johnson was able to reclaim the lead for Drake at No. 3, beating Mary Hanna, 6-4, 6-2.
Sophomore Mariel Ante extended the Drake lead to 3-1 one, besting Zgierska, 6-1, 6-4.
Eggleston won the match for Drake, putting away Sulz, 6-1, 6-2.
Even with the outcome no longer in doubt, Boyd still fought for a three-set win over Anderson, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
To her, the work mattered just as much as the talent.
“It’s not that we’re playing out of our minds or amazing. It’s just how we compete and believe that we can win,” Boyd said.
Nebraska claimed its second point of the contest when Maggie Lehmicke defeated Rebol, 7-6 (9), 6-1.
For Ante, the win brought a certain amount of joy.
“I was really happy,” Ante said. “I was pretty pumped.”
The next day, Drake won 7-0 over the Colorado State Rams.
The score might make the match look like a blowout, but it wasn’t.
“It wasn’t a 7-0 match, even though we won 7-0,” Boyd said. “They’re a really good team. Again, we just compete so hard that it just pulls us over at the end.”
Drake again came out strong in doubles play.
Johnson and Rebol again teamed up, this time taking down Maddie Buxton and Kwynn Ecton, 8-3.
Boyd, this time partnered with Ante, took down Mollie Cooper and Lauren Pick to secure the vital doubles point.
Eggleston quickly made the score 2-0, beating Celine Voss, 6-0, 6-2. Johnson followed by beating Cooper on court No. 3, 6-1, 6-3.
Boyd, for the second time in three matches, clinched the winning point for the Bulldogs, defeating Pick 7-6 (5), 6-2.
The remaining three Bulldogs, Ante, Kozulic and Rebol, also grabbed wins to secure the sweep for Drake.
For Drake, the keys are focus and effort.
“Not a lot of teams compete as hard and try and care as much as we do,” Boyd said. “It works.”
Part of that focus is centered on improvement.
“It doesn’t end here. We just have to keep getting better,” Ante said.
The Iowa Hawkeyes visit the Roger Knapp Tennis Center Wednesday. Drake will try to make it eight straight at 3 p.m.