ONLINE EXCLUSIVE BY ADAM ROGAN
The Bulldogs bid farewell to its four seniors – Lea Kozulic, Jordan Eggleston, Maddie Johnson, Mariel Ante – in their final match of the season on Sunday morning with a 6-1 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds for Senior Day.
Johnson and Ante were paired together for the fifth time this season, the two seniors usually identified as the top players on Drake’s squad as they split the majority of the matches on the No. 1 and 2 courts. In that match, unsurprisingly, they topped their opponents 6-4.
Drake’s teams won on court No. 2 and 3 as well to sweep the doubles point and take a 1-0 lead into singles.
Johnson extended the lead to two with a 6-1, 6-1 victory on court No. 2. The win improved her already impressive senior season record to 15-3 and extended her win streak to 11 matches. She hasn’t lost since Feb. 21.
“To get the win for me and the team,” Johnson said. “Couldn’t be better.”
Although Ante fell in straight sets on court No. 1, the Bulldogs would win from there on out.
Sophomore Summer Brills won 6-1, 6-2. Lomas won on court No. 5 after a rocky first set. She got out ahead 5-1, but then lost the next three games before taking the 6-4 victory. She won the first five games of set two as well before winning by a more comfortable score of 6-2 to clinch the match.
Kozulic on court No. 6, freshman Joely Lomas and sophomore Tess Herder on court No. 3 were allowed to finish their matches, wanting to get as much playing time in before the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament starts this weekend on April 29.
Lomas secured Drake’s fourth point with a 6-4, 6-2 win. Kozulic – playing in only her third match of 2016 after being benched for most of the season with injury – picked up her first win with a 6-4, 6-4 straight set victory. Herder had gotten out to a 5-2 win in the first set, but faltered and fell 7-6 (6-4).
She rebounded in an identically scored second set, winning by the same score. In the first-to-10 third set tiebreaker, Herder was able to blow past her opponent by a score of 10-1 to bring the final score to 6-1.
The win was Drake’s 14th of the season (14-11 overall) and 11th home victory of 2016. The Bulldogs finished the season with a record of 4-3 against Missouri Valley Conference opponents, the sixth-consecutive season where Drake has finished over .500 in the conference, placing the team in the top half of the Missouri Valley Conference entering the tournament.
“It was a great, great way to finish out my time in the Roger Knapp Tennis Center,” Johnson said.