Photo: Connor McCourtney
The Drake men’s tennis team extended its winning streak to 10 with a 7-0 win over the Bradley Braves last Saturday afternoon at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. The win moves the Bulldogs to 16-2 on the season and 2-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
Drake began its second 7-0 win of conference play with a strong start in doubles. The Bulldogs were once again led by senior Mauricio Ballivian and sophomore Anis Ghorbel at the top position, and the two were first off the courts with a hasty 8-0 win.
The two remaining doubles matches were closer, but far from hotly contested as the Bulldogs swept all three doubles matches. Sophomores Jean Erasmus and James McKie once again teamed up at the second slot to register an 8-4 win. The closest match of the day came at the third position, where sophomore Ryan Drake and junior Cesar Bracho claimed an 8-6 victory.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum from doubles into singles as the temperature and wind picked up. Ballivian ended his match quickly at the top spot with an easy 6-2, 6-1 win. Next off the courts was Bracho, who continued to impress after his return from injury, as he won 6-3, 6-1 at the fifth position.
It was Ghorbel who once again sealed victory for Drake at the second singles spot. The sophomore powered shots everywhere on the court, and his opponent couldn’t find an answer as Ghorbel stormed to a 6-1, 6-2 win.
“Every match I play, I feel more confident with my shots,” Ghorbel said. “I have improved physically and mentally.”
With the match already wrapped up, Erasmus’ third set at the fourth singles position was settled in a third-set super tiebreaker. After losing much of the momentum in a second-set loss, Erasmus was able to regain confidence and take the third set 10-6.
Sophomores Drake and McKie rounded out the match for the Bulldogs, as both players registered straight-set victories. The Bulldogs’ Saturday tilt served as preparation for their Sunday match with fellow Missouri Valley powerhouse Illinois State.
“We know they are tough,” Ballivian said, “but we know we are the better team and we have to go out and prove it.”
The Times-Delphic will have a full report on the match against the Redbirds in Thursday’s issue.
Drake dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Illinois State Redbirds on Saturday in Normal, Ill. The loss puts the Bulldogs at 0-2 in conference play.
Junior Gabby Demos and sophomore Manca Krizman started off the match strong for the Bulldogs, as the Drake duo battled the Redbirds to a tiebreaker at the top doubles spot. The two eventually fell short by a score of 11-9.
The rest of the squad couldn’t muster as many games as the top duo, as the second and third doubles squads fell to Illinois State as well. Junior Earlynn Lauer and freshman Klavdija Rebol lost 8-4 at the second spot, while junior Amanda Aragon and senior Jessica Labarte suffered an 8-2 defeat.
The Bulldogs came out stronger in singles, and they were able to fight their way back into the match. The best displays of tennis came from Demos at second singles and Rebol at third singles. Demos routed her opponent 6-4, 6-2 while Rebol lost her first set in a tiebreaker, but came back in full force by taking the next two sets 6-0, 6-0. Krizman posted the last win of the day for Drake, as the sophomore was able to take the first set and recover from a lapse in the second. Krizman ended up winning the match in a third set super tiebreaker, 6-3, 6-7, 10-6.
Junior Jess Aguilera had a chance at victory at the fourth singles slot as she took the first set 6-3, but it was Illinois State who prevailed, taking the next two sets by the same score. Illinois State also took the fifth and sixth singles points, as Lauer and Aragon were both dismissed in straight sets.
The Times-Delphic will have a full report on the Bulldogs’ Sunday match against Bradley in the next issue.