BY ADAM ROGAN PHOTO KATIE KURKA
Drake Men’s Tennis’ season is underway.
A young team without any seniors on the roster, the Bulldogs have still started the season on a positive with four wins and two losses through three weekends of competition.
Drake started the season with a pair of dominating wins in a Jan. 21 home doubleheader.
Only one Bulldog lost their match against George Washington University on the way to a 6-1 victory. Later that afternoon, Drake won 4-0 against Northern Illinois University.
The next weekend, the Bulldogs were handed their first loss in Austin, Texas, to the University of Texas, a team currently ranked in the nation’s top 10.
After losing his first match of the season, junior Calum MacGeoch bounced back by winning on the second court in two sets, giving Drake its only point against the Longhorns.
The next day, the Bulldogs picked up their first road win of the season against Rice University.
After winning the doubles point thanks to two 12-game match wins, Drake still needed to win three matches in singles.
Sophomore team captain Vinny Gillespie — ranked 73rd in the nation — started Drake off with a win to further his perfect record of 3-0. Sophomore Tom Hands put Drake just a point away from victory by winning a second set tiebreaker.
But then Rice won the next three matches, including a narrow third-set tiebreaker over junior Ben Stride 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5).
This put the pressure on Drake’s only freshman, Barny Thorold. He’d lost the first set in a tiebreaker — 6-7 (6-8) — but battled back with a pair of 6-4 victories in the final two sets to sneak away with the singles and team victory.
On Feb. 3, Drake travelled to Iowa City to face the University of Iowa. Entering the match, the Bulldogs had won five consecutive matches against their in-state rivals.
That streak was extended to six on Friday.
Despite losing the doubles point, the Bulldogs won three consecutive decisions to secure the victory at 4-2. (The final score was officially 4-3, as Barnaby lost a tiebreaker in the third set after the team match was decided.)
Gillespie remained perfect on the season with his fourth win, a straight-set victory.
The clincher came on the no. 2 court as MacGeoch came from behind after getting swept in the first set. He won the second set 6-3 and battled through in the third with a 7-6 (7-3) win.
The Bulldogs’ two-match win streak ended two days later at Purdue University. Purdue started the season at 0-3, but also had a tougher schedule than Drake to start 2017. They lost 4-1 to no. 5 University of Georgia and then 4-3 to both the University of Alabama and the University of Louisville.
Against the Bulldogs, the Boilermakers led from start to finish. They won the doubles point and then took three singles matches, all of them in two sets.
Drake will return home for a doubleheader on Sunday against Middle Tennessee University at 9 a.m. and the University of Nebraska at Omaha at 4 p.m.