Without a weekend off since Jan. 20, Drake is back in action this weekend. The Bulldogs, who are on an eight-match winning streak and have won nine out of its last 10, will welcome Montana to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center tomorrow. Drake will then take on two opponents Saturday afternoon: first it will face Upper Iowa at 10 a.m., followed by Kansas at 3 p.m.
Out of the three, the Bulldogs have faced the Kansas Jayhawks most recently, dropping a 6-1 decision in Lawrence, Kan., last Feb. 5. The Bulldogs have not faced Montana since the 2007 season when Drake lost a close 4-3 match. Drake has never encountered Upper Iowa.
“To be successful in these upcoming matches everyone will have to bring their “A” game,” said senior Gabby Demos. “I really think we can go 3-0 this weekend if we just play like I know we can and not let the school’s reputation allow us to back down or give up.”
In Drake’s impressive eight-match winning streak, it has defeated Northern Illinois, SIU Edwardsville, South Dakota, North Dakota, Green Bay, Milwaukee, UMKC and Chicago State.
“The team has done pretty well so far,” head coach Paul Thomson said. “We have had some ups and downs and worked through some challenges, but all in all, we are off to a good start.”
The one Bulldog tumble in the streak came against Oklahoma on Jan. 21. The Sooners were ranked No. 25 in the nation at the time. Despite being undefeated in the team’s past eight matches, Thomson isn’t changing anything about the game plan heading into the weekend.
“I am telling them the same thing I have been saying all year,” Thomson said. “It only gets tougher as we go along, and that we are getting better but aren’t anywhere as good as we can be or will be if the work, effort and attitude stays positive.”
To this date, Oklahoma is the only team that has been ranked at the time the Bulldogs faced them. Montana brings in a 5-2 record, Upper Iowa a 3-0 record and Kansas comes to town boasting a 5-0 mark. Thomson said that Drake is just looking for steady improvement against these solid teams.
“I am not gauging our success on winning or losing,” Thomson said. “I am gauging our success on constant, steady improvement. If we win or lose ugly or don’t play well in either situation, it does not do the team any good.”
After the weekend wraps up, the Bulldogs will have a two-week break before facing Iowa State on March 9 at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
“Team chemistry is the best I’ve ever seen it and I’m really happy with where we are as a team,” Demos said. “I feel like not one person is playing for themselves but rather for one another and that is what we’ve been missing up until this season. If someone’s having a bad day, we pick them up with support and encouragement and are really pushing each other to be the best.”