After a short hiatus during winter break, Drake is back in action. The Bulldogs’ first test came last weekend in Norman, Okla., as they first beat Arkansas-Little Rock, 6-1, and then fell short against No. 25 Oklahoma, also 6-1.
“We fought very hard and showed no fear or hesitation in either match,” head coach Paul Thomson said. “We were able to control more points against Arkansas-Little Rock and held our own with the No. 25 team in the country, Oklahoma.”
The Bulldogs will now take on four opponents at home in the Roger Knapp Tennis Center, starting Saturday against Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
“I’m a little nervous but excited,” freshman Nell Boyd said. “I love playing at Drake and feeling comfortable.”
Boyd, who has emerged onto the scene for the Bulldogs in only her first season as a college athlete, said she is confident about where the team is headed.
“The team is looking awesome,” Boyd said. “We just beat Arkansas-Little Rock, 6-1, so that was a good start to our first meet this year, and Drake hasn’t won (its) first meet in 11 years.”
All success comes with things to improve, and Boyd is not shying away from this fact.
“Some of our doubles need to improve,” Boyd said. “But we are all working really hard on it and getting better every day.”
Thomson also agreed that the team can make improvements.
“We must continue to work on court positioning and setting ourselves up to finish more points,” Thomson said.
Of Drake’s 25 matches this spring, 15 will take place at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. Non-conference matches include a trip to Green Bay, Wis., to take on Green Bay on Feb. 10 and Milwaukee the next day. The Bulldogs will also travel to Las Vegas to take on Seattle, San Jose State, Southern Utah and Idaho State on March 21-24.
Missouri Valley Conference opponents will follow, and then it is time for the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship on April 27 in Omaha, Neb.
“Our goals are theory more than anything,” Thomson said. “Process over product and take care of the small things for big results. If we do that, the wins will fall into place.”
Boyd was a little more precise when thinking of goals, as she is looking to contribute to the team in a big way in her young career.
“I’m looking to improve my doubles game a lot so that (senior) Amanda Aragon and I can be a better team,” Boyd said. “And I’ll be looking to win as much as I can in singles to help my team.”
The second leg of the four-game home stand is against South Dakota and North Dakota on Sunday and next Friday, respectively.