STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The Drake Women’s Tennis team improved to 11-3 on three home wins over this past weekend. These victories extended their winning streak to five.
Taking on Iowa State on Friday morning, the Bulldogs got off to a quick start as they took the first point of the day in the doubles matches.
“We came out focused and really mentally tough this week. That’s what we’ve been working on,” Jordan Eggleston said. “We played really well, took over the net and stayed aggressive and really juiced it as a team.”
This win came as a result of the team’s work ethic when they aren’t competing.
“All week we’ve been focusing on being tough,” coach Sadhaf Pervez said. “I’ve really emphasized on accept what you have for that day. Accept that you’re going to be tired. Accept that you’re going to have an injury. Accept that they’re going to fight their butts off towards you and play with it. The best players win on their worst days.”
Iowa State was able to respond in singles and tie the match 1-1 as junior Mariel Ante fell in straight sets at the number one spot.
Ante’s team rebounded quickly, as Adrienne Jensen, Lea Kozulic and Maddie Johnson all picked up straight set wins to give the Bulldogs a 4-1 team victory.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City met a similar fate that afternoon as the Bulldogs swept them, 7-0.
“It came from all courts today, not just three through six and (we) won it on every court,” Eggleston said.
All three doubles matches ended 6-2, Ante and Herder falling, but their teammates picking up the slack.
Even though the team score showed a wide spread, there were several close matches.
Ante was slow out of the gates in the first position, falling behind three games to two, but battled back and tied the match up at five games apiece.
After winning the next game, Ante was unable to put her opponent away and the match entered a tiebreaker. The junior got out to a fast start with two quick points and coasted to a 7-4 victory to seal the first set.
Both Ante and her opponent, junior Dimitra Stavrianakou, became clearly frustrated with their own play as they continuously matched each other shot-for-shot.
Ante would go on to seal the point with a 6-4 win in the second set in another close battle, neither side ever leading by more than two games.
Not everyone had to work so hard in their own matches, as Herder wiped the floor with her opponent, winning each set 6-0. Jensen, Boyd and Johnson won in straight sets as well.
“We just battled and competed in every single match,” Johnson said.
Sunday morning brought a tougher matchup as Wyoming came into the Knapp Tennis Center, ready for a battle.
“Wyoming is a fighting, competitive team. They’re going to have great results in their conference,” Pervez said.
Yet again the Bulldogs took the doubles point, but Ante struggled in singles and lost 6-2, 6-2, allowing the match to fall into a 1-1 tie. Ante has now lost three of her last five matches, this stretch following her longest winning streak of the season after winning four straight in mid-February.
The Bulldogs responded with four straight set victories. Jensen locked away the match 6-2, 7-5 at the five spot. This was the freshman’s sixth straight victory, now 9-3 on the season.
Boyd was almost able to turn the match into a 6-1 blowout, but lost 10-8 in the third set after winning a tiebreaker 9-7 in the second set.
This victory gives the Bulldogs 10 straight wins at home, undefeated when playing in Des Moines. They are now 12-3 on the season, their only losses coming against ranked schools, all three of them by a score of 2-5.
“(We had a) huge win today. We had everyone stepped up. Our freshmen really stepped up,” Pervez said. “We knew this was going to be a very tough weekend. I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to be ranked now.”
Johnson spoke to her coach’s claim, humble about the prospects of cracking the top-75 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association standings.
“If we do get a ranking I think it would really validate our hard work and some of the big wins we’ve had this season,” Johnson said.
The rankings were announced on Tuesday and Drake was still unranked, but will still continue to fight for that recognition.
“It’s good confidence going into playing Columbia over spring break. We’ve got to get ready for the outdoor season now,” Pervez said.
The Bulldogs’ next match will take place on March 17 in Las Vegas. They will face off with Columbia.