After a terrific start to the season, the Bulldogs will have to do something they rarely have had to do this season: bounce back from a loss.
The Bulldogs had a week off following their 6-1 loss to Kansas in their latest match on Feb. 25. Coming into that match, Drake had won seven straight. The loss put them at 13-2 on the season.
“Overall, the season has been going great, and our team gets along very well, and we won seven matches in a row which was very exciting,” said freshman Nell Boyd. ”Kansas was a really hard team, and I think we played really well against them, and every match was close even though they beat us 6-1.”
Despite falling by a lopsided 6-1 margin, head coach Paul Thomson also said that Drake played the Jayhawks a lot tougher than the final margin indicated.
“Emotions were mixed,” Thomson said. “Everyone knew that we had more than our share of chances and opportunities to win that match. We lost on five singles courts but had chances on every one of them. I think they knew we played hard but did not play our best tennis.”
The Bulldogs will have to play their best tennis against Iowa State in their annual breast cancer awareness match tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. Historically, the Cyclones have dominated the rivalry over the Bulldogs. Senior Gabby Demos is confident that Drake has a shot this season.
“Friday night we are playing Iowa State, which will be a tough match, and it is also our breast cancer awareness pink match, so there will be food, door prizes and activities for fans to partake in, which will be really fun,” Demos said. “ISU is a really strong team and have always beaten us pretty easily, but I think if we all go in confident and focused, we could take them by surprise.”
With the Bulldogs hitting the mid-point of their schedule, Thomson said that the team will have to be motivated to continue its success.
“There is not really any motivation on my part right now,” Thomson said. “It is up to them. They have the ability and skills to win every match left on our schedule. It is up to them at this point to motivate themselves and to do what needs to be done.”
The Bulldogs will try to follow that path against ISU on Friday before taking on Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday at 10 a.m. and then Nebraska-Omaha at 5 p.m.
Drake will try to take advantage of its upcoming home slate of games.
“They feel comfortable at home and like playing at the Knapp Center,” Thomson said. “Our team leaders are doing OK, but they are going to play a big role in the motivation down the stretch. We’re still following the process and trying to stay true to it.”
Despite having a 13-2 start to the year, the Bulldogs are trying to take things one match at a time.
“I am honestly only looking at ISU right now,” Thomson said. “But it’s the same as every weekend. Doing the right things and small things equal big results. We have a long way to go before the MVC tournament. There are still 14 matches on the schedule. Day-to-day, we are looking for steady, consistent improvement.””