Photo: Dominic Johnson
The Drake men’s tennis team started off the 2011 spring season last Friday and Saturday by having six of its eight players move into the finals of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Individuals Tournament.
Senior Mauricio Ballivian and sophomores Jean Erasmus and Anis Ghorbel were all undefeated the first two days of competition and received the top seed in the first, third and fourth flights, respectively.
Ballivian played to three sets in both of his opening round matches, seeming to struggle in the first set of each match before finding his game and cruising to easy second and third set victories. Ballivian posted a 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-3 victory over Wichita State’s Vlad Marinescu and a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Southern Illinois’ Adam Fabik on Friday.
“I felt good with my forehand, with my serve, with all my shots; they got better throughout the matches,” Ballivian said.
Ballivian won his semifinal match against Bradley’s Juan Diego Cuadrad 6-0, 6-1 on Saturday to move into the Sunday final.
In the second flight, sophomore James McKie avenged his first-round loss to Alexander Palaez of Illinois State by crushing Creighton’s JT Christian by a score of 6-2, 6-1. McKie continued his impressive play on Saturday by beating Patrick Stiebinger 6-3, 6-4.
McKie played Illinois State’s Palaez once more in the final on Sunday afternoon. Results for that match will be in Thursday’s issue of the Times-Delphic.
Some of Drake’s most impressive play has come from Erasmus at No. 3 singles, with the sophomore winning both of his matches on Friday in straight sets. Erasmus took out Matej Zlatkovic of Illinois State in the first round by a score of 6-4, 6-2 and defeat Bradley’s Eric Nguyen 6-4, 7-6 in the second round.
“In the first matches I knew I had to play good tennis to win,” Erasmus said. “I thought I would have felt a little rusty, but coach got us in shape.”
Erasmus also moved on to the Sunday final with a three-set victory.
Ghorbel got his first start for the Bulldogs at No. 4 singles on Friday, and faced one of the strongest players in the tournament, Filip Miljevic of Illinois State. Miljevic finished in first at the No. 1 singles spot last year at the same tournament. After dropping the first set 3-6, Ghorbel fought back with his powerful serve and heavy forehand to take the second set 6-3 and finished out the match by winning the third set in a tiebreaker.
“I was a bit nervous before my first match,” Ghorbel said, “but I felt the ball good and it gave me confidence to continue.”
Ghorbel took the momentum into his second match and defeated Bryan Lube of Creighton 6-4, 6-2. On Saturday he defeated Jorge Caver of Southern Illinois 6-4, 1-6, 6-0 to move into the final on Sunday.
Like Ghorbel, freshman Robin Goodman made his first start for the Bulldogs this past weekend. After dropping his first match, Goodman defeated Bradley’s Arthur Romanet 6-2, 6-2. In his semifinal match, Goodman dropped the first set 4-6 after holding a 4-0 advantage.
“I started the match with extremely high intensity,” Goodman said,“but as I went forward I took the pressure off him a bit and he started to dictate more points.”
Goodman would come back to take the next two sets 6-3 on the strength of his forehand and volleys to move on into the final on Sunday.
Junior Cesar Bracho made his return to the team after sitting out in the fall semester, but could only find glances of his form from early last season as he lost his Friday matches.
Junior Sean O’Grady went 1-1 on the weekend, while sophomore Ryan won three matches to reach the final at No. 7 singles.
The Bulldogs didn’t perform as well in the doubles draws, with Ballivian/Ghorbel and McKie/Bracho going 1-1 on Saturday and Erasmus/Goodman going 0-2.
“There has been a lot of changes with the pairings, so it’s tough to go into a match and play well straight away,” McKie said of the doubles performances. “Coach [Evan] Austin will be doing a lot of doubles practice in the next two weeks and I’m confident we will get better on the doubles side.”
The Times-Delphic will have the results from Sunday’s finals in Thursday’s issue.
The Drake women’s tennis team narrowly lost its season opener against the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday by a score of 3-4.
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point off the strength of victories at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. Freshman Klavdija Rebol and junior Jessica Aguilera won 8-5 at No. 2 doubles while junior Amanda Aragon and senior Jessica Lebarte won 9-8 (11-9).
Singles wins at the second and fifth slots brought the Bulldogs close to victory as junior Gabby Demos won 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and Lebarte won 6-3, 6-2.
Sophomore Manca Krizman lost at the first singles slot in two close sets, falling 6-7, 5-7. Rebol also fell in straight sets 5-7, 0-6. Sophomore Ali Patterson and Aragon both lost in three tight sets, with both players losing 2-6 in the third set.
The Times-Delphic will have the results of the Sunday match against the Kansas State Wildcats in Thursday’s issue.