Photo by Katie Kurka
BY WILL MUCKIAN
Drake Men’s Tennis is in for a terrific year of growth. In their first tournament of the fall season, the Bulldogs reeled off an impressive set of wins over varied competition.
The most notable of which was sophomore Ben Clark’s Flight 1 championship win. Clark didn’t drop a single set throughout the weekend, despite a nail-biter in the first of Sunday’s sets.
“He really kept his composure the whole way through,” Head Coach Davidson Kozlowski said. “He was down, faced a set point, and just showed a lot of maturity.”
Maturity would be a big question for any team without a single senior, but Clark seemed confident that he was up to the task.
“As you go up in age, as you go through the years, you have to become more of a leader,” Clark said.
The expectation for the sophomores is that they’ll carry a lot more of the burden than usual, but Clark seemed ready for that as well.
“It was tough last year, not playing a lot,” Clark said. “But you have to work and the results will come, as they did today.”
Clark’s win was far from the only highlight in a tournament that Drake shone in.
Freshman Jackson Guilford lost his first match, but rebounded to qualify for the Flight 3 consolation finals after powering through his second and third matches. As the first Drake player from Iowa under Kozlowski’s tenure, he impressed despite some butterflies on the new stage.
“I was really nervous at first, but worked it out and played well… It was really nice to have a team to cheer you on the whole time,” Guilford stated.
Kozlowski wasn’t short on praise for the Indianola native either, and said, “He’s been tremendous — just his discipline, his mentality, his focus, his commitment to working hard… I expect him to make a real push to make that starting lineup.”
The Bulldogs will look to continue building momentum in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the ITA All-American tournament on Oct. 1st.