by KENDALL HUNT
The Drake women’s tennis team continued their successes this fall season at the annual Gopher Invitational over the weekend. Action began at 9 AM this Friday at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minnesota. Drake competed against seven different teams, including Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, North Dakota, Northern Iowa, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. Despite being one of the smaller D-1 schools in the mix, the Drake team held their ground and made an impressive showing.
“I was happy with how the team competed this weekend in singles and doubles,” said Assistant Coach Smith. “We got better every day and put ourselves in positions to challenge some of the strongest teams in the Midwest.”
Drake had eight players competing in the Gopher Invitational this weekend, six returners and two newcomers.
Opening day, returners Kelsey Neville, Megan Webb, and Sophia Haleas collected wins in the singles division, advancing to the second round of their respective brackets. In doubles, the team of Kendall Hunt and Kelsey Neville won the day’s draw with a pair of victories. Carmen Palumbo and Maria Tatarnikova also pulled out a win in the doubles division.
The second day of play was extremely tough for the Bulldogs, but the team fought to earn a few key wins. Freshman Kendall Hunt won a singles match versus Agata Jurczak of Milwaukee, and in doubles, Liza Petushkova and Maria Tatarnikova defeated UNI’s Proudfoot/Carr.
“We played a lot of matches,” mentioned senior Sophia Haleas. “We battled hard, and it was worth it.”
On the final day of competition, Drake finished strong with singles wins from newcomers Kendall Hunt and Maria Tatarnikova, as well as doubles victories from both Neville/Haleas and Palumbo/Tatarnikova.
Overall, the tournament was “a great learning experience for the team. We were able to gain some match experience that will help us throughout the fall and into the spring season,” noted senior Joely Thomas. The Bulldogs, despite only having played one tournament prior to the Gopher Invitational, were able to collect a series of wins over big teams in the top of their division.
Coach Smith added, “I’m looking forward to building off this weekend’s match heading into the MVC championships in a couple of weeks.”
Keep an eye on the Drake women’s tennis team as they continue to get ready for the MVC tournament following this weekend’s successes on the court.