Photo: Dominic Johnson
The Drake men’s tennis team started its 2011 spring dual-match season this past Saturday by dismantling the University of Missouri-Kansas City by a score of 6-1.
The Bulldogs started the match with a bang, capturing all three doubles matches to seal the lone doubles point in their favor. Last weekend’s No. 1 doubles champions at the State Farm MVC Individuals Tournament, senior Mauricio Ballivian and sophomore Anis Ghorbel, once again teamed up for the Bulldogs at the first doubles slot. In the tightest doubles match of the day, the Drake duo took out UMKC’s Nino Hasandedic and Grant Fleming, 8-6.
At the second slot, head coach Evan Austin changed the lineup by pairing sophomore James McKie with freshman Robin Goodman. The two underclassmen rushed out to a quick 8-2 victory over UMKC’s Gustavo Guerin and Abdul Al-Awadhi.
“In doubles we played better than last weekend,” McKie said. “We were louder and had a lot more presence on the court, too.”
In another doubles team change, sophomores Ryan Drake and Jean Erasmus teamed up to clinch the doubles point with an 8-5 victory over Serge Ristivojevic and David Heckler.
“I like playing with Jean because I feel comfortable on the court with him,” Drake said. “He can get me calmed down and he can get me pumped up out there.”
Austin believes his doubles pairs did better this weekend than last, but said that he might not be done changing the lineup for the spring season.
“Ryan and Jean are a good indoor team because they both serve pretty big,” Austin said. “We have good doubles players on the team, it is just a matter of seeing who works best with who.”
The Bulldogs won five of their six singles matches, with all five victories coming in routine straight sets. The only loss came in a third set super-tiebreaker between Ballivian and UMKC’s Hasandedic. Ballivian started the match with the momentum, taking the first set 7-5, but he dropped the second by a score of 4-6. As the two entered the third set, the Bulldogs had already clinched the victory, so the coaches decided to determine the match with a third set super-tiebreaker (first to 10 points, win by two). Ballivian was up 8-5 at one point, but Hasandedic rattled off five straight points to take the set 10-8, and the match.
Four Bulldogs made routine work of the Kangaroos, with McKie continuing his strong play from last weekend with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over UMKC’s Fleming.
At the fourth singles slot, Ghorbel had the most lopsided victory by beating Guerin 6-0, 6-2. Goodman played at the fifth singles position and broke Al-Awadhi’s serve numerous times to take a 6-2, 6-4 win.
Junior Jonathan Hadash played his first match of the 2011 season after returning from a finger injury, and he looked as good as ever en route to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Heckler.
Erasmus had to battle to remain undefeated for the season, though. Ristivojevic of UMKC took the Bulldog to a tiebreaker each set, but Erasmus was able to raise his play when it mattered to finish the match 7-6, 7-6.
“They were a good team to play at the start of the season, I think,” Austin said. “We were pushed in some spots because the guys at the top of their lineup are pretty good.”
The Times-Delphic will have the results from the Bulldogs’ Sunday match against Nebraska-Kearney in Thursday’s issue. The Bulldogs play Central Florida next on Feb. 12, and they return home on Feb. 20 to take on the University of Illinois at Chicago at 10 a.m. in the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.