Photo: Connor McCourtney
The Drake women’s tennis team extended its winning streak to five games with a gritty 4-3 win over the North Dakota Fighting Sioux last Sunday afternoon at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. Since losing their first three away matches, the Bulldogs have caught fire in Des Moines to improve their record to 5-3 on the season.
One of the most notable improvements in the Bulldogs’ game has come at the opening doubles point, and the team proved it this past Sunday as it swept each doubles match to set the tone early on. Junior Gabby Demos and freshman Klavdija Rebol partnered together at the second doubles slot and wasted no time in getting the first victory for the Bulldogs. The combo rushed out to an 8-4 win over Stephanie Petsis and Hallie Welk of North Dakota.
The tandem of juniors Amanda Aragon and Earlynn Lauer clinched the doubles point at the third slot with an 8-3 win over Chelsey Galipeau and Megan Sween of the Fighting Sioux. With the doubles point already won, junior Jess Aguilera and sophomore Manca Krizman were merely fighting over momentum at the first singles spot. The match remained close until the very last game, but the Drake duo prevailed in a tiebreaker to take the set 8-7 (5).
Head coach Paul Thomson made only one substitution in the transition to the singles portion of the match, with senior Jessica Labarte taking the role of sixth singles. Despite losing the singles point, the Fighting Sioux weren’t ready to give up the match. North Dakota evened the score in less than an hour, as Aragon of Drake fell 1-6, 0-6 to Stephanie Biehn. With the match tied, it was North Dakota who registered the next blow, as freshman Rebol fell in straight sets 3-6, 3-6 to Callie Ronkowski.
Fortunately, Aguilera was there to answer for the Bulldogs with a decisive straight-set win over Welk. Aguilera, one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent players, posted an easy 6-3, 6-2 score over her opponent. With the score tied at two matches apiece and only two matches left, the intensity picked up in the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. Krizman was able to register a 6-3, 6-4 win over Petsis to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 advantage. Both Labarte and Demos were stuck in tight third sets at this point, and it was North Dakota who seemed to be pulling ahead, as Labarte fell 2-6 in the third set to tie the match up at 3-3.
The match rested on the fate of the second singles match, where Demos was pitted against Erin Kappers of North Dakota. Kappers, who was named to the first team All-Great West Conference last year, had originally held the lead in the match, as she took the first set 7-5. From then, Demos seemed to be in full control of the match, as the momentum gained from her 6-1 second-set victory transferred into the third set. Demos captured the victory in the final set with a 6-4 victory.
The Bulldogs continue their home stretch tomorrow at 4 p.m. against the Iowa State Cyclones. The match will be held at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.