Photo: Dominic Johnson
The Drake men’s tennis team remained undefeated and extended its winning streak to three games this past Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the University of Central Florida Knights.
The Knights proved to be the stiffest competition the Bulldogs have faced thus far in the spring season, as the match started with a scare when the No. 1 doubles team of sophomore Anis Ghorbel and senior Mauricio Ballivian fell to Blaze Schwartz and Joe Delinks of Central Florida 8-5.
In the second doubles match, sophomore James McKie paired with freshman Robin Goodman to post a dominant victory over Erik Brunskog and Eugene Dolgovykh 8-5. The doubles point was decided at the third doubles position, with junior Jonathan Hadash and sophomore Jean Erasmus sealing the point for Drake with a decisive 8-4 win.
“I am so proud of my teammates for stepping up in doubles,” Ballivian said.
The Bulldogs took the court shortly after the doubles victory for singles play. Erasmus carried his strong play from doubles into singles. One of Drake’s most consistent players this season, Erasmus was the first to post a singles victory with a 6-3, 6-2 result over Leonel Vivas of Central Florida.
“I think we stepped up in all our singles [matches],” Erasmus said, “and where we did lose we went down fighting.”
Ghorbel finished shortly after Erasmus with an impressive result of his own, taking out Brunskog 6-2, 6-4 to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 advantage in the match.
Despite losing the doubles point and dropping two singles matches, Central Florida didn’t fade away for the remainder of the match. Joe Delinks defeated Drake’s Hadash 6-4, 6-4 to bring the score to 3-1, but Goodman clinched the match for the Bulldogs. After a close first set which Goodman captured 7-6, the youngest Bulldog pulled away with a 6-1 victory in the second set that gave Drake its first road victory of the spring season.
“I was quite nervous for my singles and started the match quite negatively,” Goodman said, “but I then thought it would be better to stop being negative, so I focused on moving my feet more and pulled out the win.”
At the first singles slot, Ballivian took on UCF’s Schwartz and looked to be in trouble after losing the first set 7-5. In typical Ballivian fashion, the Drake senior fought his way back into the match, this time winning the second set 6-1 before battling it out in the third set. It took him a tiebreaker to seal the match, but once he reached the end, Ballivian dominated 7-1 in the tiebreaker to win.
“I won another battle tonight, fighting and running for every point,” Ballivian said. “We need to get more pumped and become a team that is known for being a fighter team.”
McKie was the last Bulldog on the court to battle with UCF’s Romano. McKie took the first set in a tiebreaker, but after that lost two straight sets to finalize the match score at 5-2 in favor of Drake.
“I won another battle tonight, fighting and running for every point. We need to get more pumped and become a team that is known for being a fighter team.” –Senior Mauricio Ballivian Drake’s No. 1 singles player
On Sunday, Drake played another Bulldog squad at Butler University. The Times-Delphic will have coverage of Sunday’s match in Thursday’s issue.
The Bulldogs return home to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center next Sunday against the University of Illinois – Chicago at 10 a.m., followed by a match against Graceland at 4 p.m. the same day.
The Drake women’s tennis team hosted its first two home matches this past weekend at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center, and the Bulldogs were able to put their three losses behind them to post two incredibly dominant victories over Gustavus Adolphus College and Graceland University.
The Bulldogs started off their weekend by defeating the Division III powerhouse Gustavus Gusties 6-1. Drake started off the dual match in convincing fashion as junior Amanda Aragon and senior Jessica Labarte defeated Gustavus’ Alex Erickson and Julie Bardenwerper 8-3.
In the next match that finished, junior Gabby Demos and sophomore Manca Krizman faltered at No. 2 doubles in an 8-3 loss to Gustavus’ Maria Bryan and Sam Frank.
The doubles point held in the balance at the first doubles slot, and junior Jessica Aguilera and freshman Klavdija Rebol were there to stand tall for the Bulldogs. In a match that was tight until the very end, the two Drake players were able to pull away with an 8-6 victory.
Once winning the doubles point, the Bulldogs never looked back. They soon clinched the match after victories at the fourth, fifth and first singles spots. Aguilera didn’t lose a single game in her 6-0, 6-0 win over Erickson. Aragon encountered little resistance in defeating her opponent, posting a 6-3, 6-0 mark. Krizman clinched the match for the Bulldogs with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
After sealing the win, Drake suffered a loss when junior Earlynn Lauer fell in straight sets to Bardenwerper 6-2, 6-1.
Demos and Rebol ended the match with victories, Demos 6-1, 6-3 and Rebol with a tight 7-5, 0-6, 10-5 win.
Just hours later, Drake took the court once again to take on Graceland. The Bulldogs played an even sharper match, posting a 7-0 victory with multiple 6-0 sets and each win in straight sets.
Doubles play was over in a flash, as the team lost only one game in the three matches. Aguilera/ Krizman and Labarte/Aragon both posted 8-0 victories at first and second doubles, respectively, and Lauer and Demos dominated at the third slot 8-1.
“Everyone just played well and put balls away,” Demos said.
Singles play was just as dominant, as the Bulldogs lost only five games total in six matches.
Rebol played at the top spot this match, winning 6-0, 6-1. Aguilera played at No. 2, posting her second 6-0, 6-0 win and remaining perfect for the day. Labarte, who played her first year of college tennis at Graceland, also had a perfect 6-0, 6-0 match at the third singles slot. Sophomore Ali Patterson entered the lineup and won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4 singles.
Aragon posted a 6-0, 6-2 win while Lauer erased all memory of the day’s previous loss with a dominant 6-0, 6-1 performance.
“It was definitely a good confidence booster,” Patterson said.
The Bulldogs aren’t getting caught up in their first two victories of the season though, and are already looking to improve before their next match.
“We still have work to do on doubles and returns,” Demos said, “but we are making improvements.”
Drake’s next match will be at home on Feb. 26 against Chicago State. The match begins at 10 a.m. at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.