The Drake men’s tennis team extended its winning streak to four straight matches with a 7-0 victory over Butler University last Sunday afternoon. The win in Indiana was the Bulldogs’ second 7-0 match this season and improved the team to a 4-0 overall record.
The Bulldogs kicked off the match with a bang, as junior Jonathan Hadash and sophomore Jean Erasmus quickly captured their doubles match at the third slot. The duo dominated the match throughout, posting an 8-1 score over Zach Ervin and David Dollins of Butler. The rest of the squad didn’t breeze through the doubles matches with as much ease, though.
Freshman Robin Goodman paired with sophomore James McKie at the second doubles position against Lenz Theodor and Brandon Bayliss of Butler. The match was a close battle throughout, but the Drake duo managed to pull ahead near the end for an 8-6 triumph to claim the doubles point.
Senior Mauricio Ballivian and sophomore Anis Ghorbel could not make it a clean sweep at doubles for Drake. The match at the first spot against Butler’s Chris Herron and Bryce Warren went all the way to a tiebreaker, which Drake barely lost 7-5. Despite the loss, Drake advanced into singles play with a 1-0 lead.
“We definitely made a great deal of improvement in our doubles this weekend,” head coach Evan Austin said, “but we have a long way to go and need to continue to work hard on it.”
Once singles play began, Drake didn’t take long to capture the match. Erasmus routed Theodor 6-1, 6-1 to become the first player finished in singles, giving his team a 2-0 advantage. Shortly thereafter fellow sophomore McKie posted a 6-2, 6-1 win over Butler’s Warren to pull the Bulldogs within one match of a team victory.
Ballivian, who broke into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s national singles rankings for the first time this Monday, clinched the match for the Bulldogs with a 6-1, 6-2 defeat of Brandon Bayliss of Butler. Ballivian is currently at No. 122 in the rankings.
The Bulldogs finished off the match with Ghorbel, Hadash and Goodman each posting straight-set victories. Ghorbel won 6-4, 6-4; Hadash won 6-0, 6-2; and Goodman won 6-1, 6-1.
Drake will return home this weekend to face the University of Illinois at Chicago and Graceland University. Both matches will take place on Sunday, less than a week before Drake faces its two toughest opponents of the non-conference schedule: Iowa and Minnesota.
“We’re playing Graceland and UIC this weekend, so I think it should be our priority to beat these teams as convincingly as possible before looking at how to play teams like Iowa and Minnesota,” Goodman said. “We cannot be overconfident going into this weekend.”
Austin stressed the importance of continuing to win the opening doubles point in each dual match, as it provides a confidence and momentum boost early on. He has spent this fall season — especially the past week — working on the nuances of both the doubles and singles play.
“We have to work hard on some doubles and singles details so we can be ready, because those details are going to make the difference,” Ghorbel said.
Despite the 4-0 start, the men’s squad isn’t taking any matches for granted and are looking forward to improving this Sunday. The match against UIC begins at 10 a.m. in the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. At 4 p.m., the Bulldogs will take the court against Graceland.
“We still have a lot to prove and we can all play better,” Goodman said. “Let the racket do the talking.”