Photo by Adam Rogan
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE BY ADAM ROGAN
Drake Men’s Tennis didn’t live up to its no. 42 ranking over the weekend. As of Feb. 28, the Bulldogs are no longer in the nation’s top 50.
Competing on the road in Eugene, Oregon, the Bulldogs stumbled against the unranked Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougars and 23rd ranked University of Oregon Ducks.
“We’ll rebound,” head coach Davidson Kozlowski said. “It’s just a matter of it will be this weekend or the following weekend, but we’re confident in what we’re doing and we’ll keep going at it.”
The Bulldogs dropped the doubles point and started behind 1-0 against BYU on Feb. 25.
“(Doubles) has still been a weakness of this team, which is surprising to all of us,” Kozlowski said. “We seem to have some good doubles players. We’ll keep mixing and matching until we get the combinations right.”
Sophomore Vinny Gillespie tied the match at one with a straight-set win on court one, improving to 8-0 on the season.
Sophomore Tom Hands junior Ben Stride won in two sets as well, giving Drake a 3-1 lead.
Freshman Barny Thorold lost soon after: 6-0, 6-4.
Junior Calum MacGeoch couldn’t give the Bulldogs the win either. He lost in two sets: 6-3, 7-5.
The match came down to junior Bayo Philips on court six. He’d let the first set slip away in the tiebreaker, but bounced back 6-3 in set two. That wasn’t the case in the deciding third set. He fell behind early and couldn’t catch up, eventually losing 6-2.
The downward momentum continued the next day when the Bulldogs took on their hosts, Oregon, on Feb. 26.
The Ducks had swept the Cougars two days earlier and were looking to do the same to Drake. They succeeded.
Thorold, who is still seeking his first collegiate victory, was the only Bulldog to take a set. He won the first set 7-5, but only won one game in the final two sets.
“That was one of our least competitive matches,” Kozlowski said. “… We definitely played like a team lacking confidence on Sunday.”
Gillespie, ranked 55th in the nation, was also handed his first singles match loss of the season. He was bested by Oregon sophomore Thomas Laurent, who is ranked in the nation’s top 40.
MacGeoch dropped his fourth straight match as well. He’s been hampered by a shoulder injury, reducing his range of ability, not to mention the distraction of playing through the pain.
“We have one guy out of eight that is 100 percent healthy and not seeking any sort of treatment, so that hurts,” Kozlowski said.
Rankings may not define how the players perform, but it still is a mental factor, one that Kozlowski tries to downplay.
“Everybody looks at the rankings each week, hoping that we go up,” MacGeoch said. “But I don’t think it’s something that we lose sleep over because we know that we’re definitely a top-50 team.”
The Bulldogs will have an opportunity to show they deserve a ranking this weekend when they take on a pair of ranked opponents in Minneapolis: no. 47 University Washington and no. 20 University of Minnesota.