BY ERIN O’BOYLE
After back to back wins at the Summit League Championship two years in a row, the Drake Men’s Tennis team began their 2020 season earlier this month at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center in Des Moines.
The Bulldogs are coming into this season with two Summit League Championships under their belt. Even more impressive is the fact that the Drake Men’s tennis team has only been a member of the Summit League for two years, thus securing their place as top dogs in this conference since day one.
However, the success of past team does ensure the team’s record going forward. As every team that has gone before them has done, they must prove themselves match after match.
With only two members of the championship team returning, Barny Thorold and Finley Hall, this year’s team is full of young talent who have the unique opportunity to leave their mark on the Drake tennis program from the very start of their college careers.
The Bulldogs started their regular season play at home on January 17th with a win against Western Michigan.
In Doubles play, Drake clenched the win at No. 3 consisting of freshmen Oliver Johansson and Matija Matic. However, No. 1 and No. 2 doubles fell to Western Michigan, giving the Broncos the doubles point and a lead of 1-0 going into singles play.
In an impressive show of strength, the Bulldogs won all singles matches except for the No. 1 singles match. Their success in the singles portion of the competition, allowed the Bulldogs to claim the overall win with a score of 4-3 over Western Michigan.
Starting off the season with a win, the Drake Men’s tennis team headed into a double header the next day at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
The first match of the day began at noon against Northern Illinois. Again, freshmen Johansson and Matic were the only team for Drake to win in the doubles portion of play, thus giving NIU the point.
At No. 2 singles, Johansson defeated his opponent in set scores of 6-3, 6-3. No. 3 singles, junior Finley Hall, was also victorious with set scores of 6-4, 7-5. Finally, at No. 4 singles sophomore Reid Jarvis finished with set scores of 6-2,6-2. With three wins in singles and the doubles point, NIU gave the Bulldogs their first loss of 3-4.
Later that evening, the Drake tennis team faced Gonzaga at home. The Bulldogs were able to take the doubles point right away with wins at No. 2 Doubles and No. 3 Doubles. Singles play proved more difficult with three of the six singles matches going into a third tiebreaker set. The only win in singles play was freshman Oliver Johansson at No. 3 singles. No. 2 singles, No. 4 singles, and No. 6 singles were all sent to a third set as a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs all lost their tiebreaker sets, giving Gonzaga the overall win with a score of 5-2.
After their first weekend of regular season play, the Bulldogs finished with a 1-2 record. Going into their second weekend of play and their last weekend before the spring semester begins, the Bulldogs will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for matches against Arkansas, Middle Tennessee, and Wichita State.