The Drake men’s tennis team notched its eighth straight win on Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos. The win puts the Bulldogs at 14-2 heading into a match against Northern Illinois, which was played yesterday. These matches are the last two nonconference tilts for Drake.
On a day with less than perfect conditions in Rockford, Ill., the Bulldogs started slowly in the three doubles matches. Head coach Evan Austin once again put the duo of senior Mauricio Ballivian and sophomore Anis Ghorbel at the top doubles position. The duo was dominant throughout the match, as they rolled to an 8-2 win to put the Bulldogs just one win away from capturing the doubles point.
The next match finished was at third doubles, where junior Cesar Bracho and freshman Robin Goodman teamed up for the first time this season. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the tandem lost the match 6-8. With the doubles matches tied at 1-1, the doubles point was decided at the second position where sophomores Jean Erasmus and James McKie represented the Bulldogs. In a tight battle, it was the Broncos who captured the doubles point with an 8-6 victory.
Despite dropping the doubles point, the Bulldogs remained confident in the tough conditions.
“It was cold and windy, but my team stayed focus and played hard,” Ballivian said. “We are a tough team that plays hard in any conditions.”
The Bulldogs showed that they were the tougher team in singles, starting with Goodman’s dominant 6-1, 6-1 victory at the fifth position. McKie was the next Drake player off the court, as he won 6-3, 6-1.
The first contested match came at the top singles slot, where Ballivian took on Michael Calderone of Western Michigan. After winning the first set 6-4, Calderone took Ballivian into a tiebreaker to decide the match. Ballivian dominated the tiebreaker 7-1.
The match was clinched by Ghorbel, who moved up from the fourth position to play at the third spot. Ghorbel won the first set with relative ease, as he took the set 6-3. Like Ballivian’s match, the Western Michigan opponent came back to life in the second set and took the Bulldog into a tiebreaker. Ghorbel won the tiebreaker 7-4 to clinch the victory for Drake.
Erasmus gave Drake its fifth victory of the day with a 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 win at the fifth position. The only singles loss of the day came at the sixth slot, where Bracho captured the first set 6-0 but failed to convert in the next two sets. This marked the first singles loss for Bracho since returning from injury a few weeks ago.
“The most important thing today was to just get the win,” McKie said. “Very windy conditions mean anything could have happened.”
Drake’s match against Northern Illinois took place on Sunday afternoon, and The Times-Delphic will have complete coverage of the match in Thursday’s issue.
The Bulldogs return home this weekend with a Saturday match against Bradley and a Sunday match against Illinois State.
Drake (14-2) vs. Western Michigan (11-9)
No. 1 Mauricio Ballivian (DU) def. Michael Calderone (WMU), 6-4, 7-6 (1)
No. 2 James McKie (DU) def. Kazuya Komada (WMU), 6-3, 6-1
No. 3 Anis Ghorbel (DU) def. Pablo Olivarez (WMU), 6-3, 7-6 (4)
No. 4 Jean Erasmus (DU) def. Casey Cullen (WMU), 6-3, 4-6, 10-8
No. 5 Robin Goodman (DU) def. Brad Noel (WMU), 6-1, 6-1
No. 6 Ross VanderPloeg (WMU) def. Cesar Bracho (DU), 0-6, 6-3, 6-3
Team: Drake 5, Western Michigan 2