BY ADAM ROGAN
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is not screw up.
Sophomore Kenya Williams used that strategy in her match-clinching victory for Drake Women’s Tennis on Saturday over Colorado State University.
All three sets in Williams’ match went to 12 games. In the third set, she was serving for match point. She played one volley after the serve before her opponent returned the ball into the net, improving the Bulldogs’ record to 4-3 on the season.
“(I was) making sure that I didn’t give (my opponent) any errors, making her try to earn the game,” Williams said. “I just tried to make as many balls as possible and not be the one to miss.”
Colorado State was the second of two opponents the Bulldogs faced in Lincoln, Nebraska, last weekend. The first match was against their hosts, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, a team that is still undefeated after it swept Drake 4-0 on Friday.
Only one Bulldog, junior Summer Brills, won a set against Nebraska. Every singles match ended in two sets or was called off when the team match was sealed. For the called off matches, no Bulldog held a lead, including Brills who was down 1-0 in the third set.
“They have a deep squad, 12 girls, and all (are) very talented players,” head coach Mai-Ly Tran said. “I think it was a very competitive match. The scores may not have shown that, but the girls competed very well, so it actually gave us some momentum going into Colorado State.”
Even with that momentum, the match started out looking like it might’ve been a repeat of the previous day.
CSU swept the doubles point, then took the first two singles points on courts five and six.
“Losing the doubles point is always tough, but I think we’ve been there so many times that it doesn’t phase the girls,” Tran said.
Cornered and needing to win out, the Bulldogs battled back.
“We were evenly matched, and we knew it was going to be a tough match.”
Brills got Drake on the board. She stole the first set in 12 games and won the match with a 6-1 second set.
Sophomore Joely Lomas survived into a third set that she won 7-5. She is now 3-0 overall in 2017.
Another narrow win came on court 2 from senior Tess Herder, who is also undefeated this season. She won the first set in a tiebreaker, lost the second 3-6, but pulled away 6-4 in the third.
Williams’ match was the only one left. She won the first set 7-6 before losing the second 7-5.
Her strategy was to stay aggressive throughout the entirety of the match, and that got her up 4-1 in the third set. However, her opponent responded in turn with her back against the wall.
“I got a 4-1 lead from being aggressive,” Williams said, “… but then she picked up her game because … she had nothing really to lose, so then she started being really aggressive and hitting a lot of winners.”
Williams fell behind 5-4, but forced a tiebreaker that she was able to take by a score of 7-3.
“I feel like I just tried to find every bit of energy that I had inside of me, to keep fighting and pushing,” Williams said, “because I knew that we were so close to us getting the win, so I was just trying to do whatever I could to push through it.”
The Bulldogs have this weekend off, but will return to the court on March 4 and 5 for two road matches against Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.