STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
For the second year in a row, the Women’s Tennis team came up just short of taking home the Missouri Valley Conference Championship Tournament, losing to Wichita State University in the final round on April 26.
A 6-1 record against conference opponents left the Bulldogs in second place entering the tournament. Their only loss in the MVC during the regular season came against Wichita State, a team that has now gone undefeated in conference play nine years in a row.
“I think we did a better job of playing [Wichita State] this week as we did last week,” freshman Adrienne Jensen said. “We didn’t give them as much respect this week, which allowed us to play better.”
Against the other six teams in the conference, however, the Bulldogs dominated. They gave up only three points in six matches, two against the University of Northern Iowa and one against the University of Evansville. The tournament kicked off on April 24 as the Bulldogs took on Missouri State in the first round.
Junior Jordan Eggelston and freshman Tess Herder trounced their opponents in the doubles match 8-0. Freshman Summer Brills and senior Nell Boyd followed suit with an 8-3 win, sealing the first point of the tournament.
Junior Lea Kozulic swept her doubles match in two sets. Herder was almost able to say the same, dropping just one game in set one and sweeping the second set. Brills sealed the match, winning a tightly fought first set 6-4 and walking away with a second set sweep.
The match against UNI was nearly identical. Kozulic continued her hot streak with her second 6-0, 6-0 win of the tournament, now 15-1 on the season. Johnson put the Bulldogs one point away from the championship match with a 6-1, 6-2 straight set victory of her own.
Although every Bulldog led when the match came to an end, it was Jensen who would seal the deal. The final score was 6-4, 6-3, with Drake gaining even more momentum going into the championship match against MVC bully Wichita State.
The Bulldogs fought hard in doubles and nearly came away with the point, but Wichita State pulled away with 8-4 and 8-3 victories to start the championship match up one.
“We were right there to get the doubles point. We could’ve got it. We just fell a little short. They just played a little better than we did,” Boyd said.
Wichita State won three matches against Ante, Johnson and Boyd to take the championship in a sweep.
“We played well. We competed our best,” Johnson said. “You’re not always going to come out on top, but I think we did our best.”
“We fought so hard,” Boyd said. “No one was negative. No one played badly.”
The championship was Boyd’s final match of her career, finishing with a four-year overall record of 101-54, the second most wins in school history for singles by just one match, after finishing 26-12 in the 2014-2015 season. However, she will be remembered for having the most career doubles and total combined wins in school history.
“When I came from high school I didn’t expect to break any records,” Boyd said. “I wanted to do well of course, but I never was like, ‘Oh, I’m trying to break this record and this,’ you know?”
Boyd will be the only Bulldog to graduate at the end of this year, with eight of the Bulldogs’ nine players returning for next season. However, she will be continuing as a student next year at Drake and will be helping out with the team as an assistant coach.
“We’ll have a tough schedule again, but I think we can do great and I’m really excited to see what next year has to bring,” Jensen said.