After losing back-to-back matches for the first time this spring to Kansas and Iowa State, the Drake women’s tennis team is back on track, winning five out of its last six matches. Three of those wins came in Las Vegas over the break, as the Bulldogs only lost one match to San Jose State. The team is back home at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center this Saturday against Northern Iowa at 1 p.m.
“I still believe this is the best season Drake women’s tennis has seen in a while,” senior Gabby Demos said. “Not only are we playing well, but we’re finally seeing results, and I feel very prepared going into conference play this weekend.”
Earlier this season, Demos cracked the top-10 in doubles wins in school history. The team also posted a 10-match winning streak at one point in the season.
“I think one of the defining factors making this a better season than past ones is the five-senior presence on the team,” Demos said. “All of us are wrapping up our careers and therefore trying to finish as strong as possible. The team chemistry is also really great this season, and with our recent trip to Vegas, our bonds strengthened even more.”
Drake will face seven consecutive Missouri Valley Conference opponents in the next four weeks until the MVC tournament gets under way: it will face Northern Iowa, Bradley and Illinois State at home, and square off against Southern Illinois, Evansville, Wichita State and Creighton on the road. The State Farm MVC Championship begins April 27 in Omaha, Neb.
“I am very satisfied with the team right now and am excited to play UNI this weekend, as they are one of our biggest rivals,” Demos said.
The seven conference match-ups before the tournament also give the team a chance to tighten up any loose ends it might have before facing the same teams in the tournament.
“Before the tournament, I think we really need to focus on point construction and when to go for different shots during the match,” Demos said. “I feel everyone can also work on serve returns so as to not give any easy points away because every match counts during the tournament, and we really want to do well there this year.”
Last season, the Bulldogs had an early exit from the tournament, losing to Illinois State 4-3 on the first day of competition. The season before was none better; Drake was shut out by Southern Illinois 4-0 in the first round. Demos’ freshman season was more of the same, as the Bulldogs lost to Illinois State 4-0, also in the first round. Despite the recent disappointing MVC tournament showings by the Bulldogs, Demos is optimistic that this year the squad can turn around its luck.
“The final goals of the season I would have to say are for everyone to play their best tennis during conference dual-matches so as to get a good seeding in the tournament and then advance in the tournament, which we have been unable to do in the last few years,” Demos said. “I think if everyone comes to play like they can, we could maybe even win the whole thing this year.”
Krizman earns MVC Player of the Week honors
Junior Manca Krizman was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s Women’s Tennis Player of the Week on Tuesday. This is the third straight week a Bulldog has earned the distinction and the third time that Krizman has been selected in her career.
Krizman went a combined 7-1 in her singles/doubles ledger, leading Drake to a 3-1 mark last week.
Krizman extended her singles winning streak to 22 matches with four victories last week. On the season, Krizman is now a team-best 45-10 combined in her singles/doubles ledger. Her 25-2 singles ledger is also best on the team.