STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
In what was set to be the most competitive match of the Missouri Valley Conference season, the 31st ranked Drake Men’s Tennis team topped the Wichita State Shockers 5-2 on Friday while facing a hostile crowd.
“The Wichita match is always important for us,” head coach Davidson Kozlowski said. “They’ve been our biggest conference rival.”
Despite dropping the doubles point and 39th ranked Alen Salibasic losing his match, the Bulldogs were still able to snap a 20-game home winning streak for the Shockers.
“The boys did a really well after losing the doubles point to come back and take care of singles pretty convincingly,” senior Matt Frost said.
Drake is now 21-6 this season and 2-0 in conference play with their toughest opponent out of the way, as Wichita was ranked 52nd in the nation entering the match.
Down 1-0 after losing the doubles point, the Bulldogs stepped up their game, winning the first five singles matches, all of them in two matches.
Freshmen Ben Mullis and Calum MacGeoch each escaped with 7-5 wins in the first set and won commandingly in the following set to take the victories.
Frost was pushed into a tiebreaker in his first set, but was able to come away with a two set win, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. His win also sealed the victory, putting Drake up 4-1.
Salibasic faced off with 54th ranked junior Tin Ostojic at the first spot, two of the highest ranked players in the MVC this season.
“In singles honestly we truly feel like we’re a stronger team in singles in that we can go out and win on each court, and we almost did,” Kozlowski said.
After dropping the first set 3-6, Salibasic pushed the game into an extra set by coming back in set two, 4-6. A tightly fought third match ended up falling to the Shockers, 7-5, giving them the second point of the day, but Drake still walked away with the win.
This win helped Drake avoid a third upset of the season, having lost to the University of Denver on Feb. 21 and to the University of Minnesota on March 8, each match ending 3-4.
“We need to make sure that our effort and our intensity is there,” senior Ben Lott said. “If we keep bringing the intensity the other guys will follow.”
The Bulldogs will finish their regular season on Saturday when they travel to Carbondale, Illinois to take on Southern Illinois in the hopes of their fifth straight undefeated season against the MVC.