Photos: Taylor Soule
With no matches remaining at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center for the 2012 season, Drake heads out of town for its four remaining regular season matches, and it is riding a five-match winning streak.
The Bulldogs will round out the regular season on the road against Missouri Valley Conference opponents Southern Illinois, Evansville, Wichita State and Creighton. The last home matches of the year took place last weekend with Drake defeating both Bradley and Illinois State by a score of 6-1.
“This past weekend was great for the program, both for confidence and getting off to a great start in the MVC,” head coach Paul Thomson said. “We still have a good deal of work to do and have to start looking forward again.”
Although the recent success is great, this weekend presents a couple of tough opponents, with Wichita State second in the Valley and with Southern Illinois sitting in third. Despite the tough road ahead, Thomson treats every match the same.
“Every ‘next match’ we have is our toughest,” Thomson said. “We aren’t thinking about winning out, just the next three days of preparation for Southern Illinois. We can only play one match at a time. There is no point in looking that far ahead.”
Team chemistry might be playing a role in the recent success of the squad, with that being the only facet of the team that Thomson will speak candidly about.
“The team chemistry is very good,” he said. “All of the girls know they each have roles to play, and what they do has a direct effect on the rest of the team.”
Evansville sits in sixth in the Valley while Creighton is just below them in seventh place, as of Tuesday. After the match with Creighton, the only event left on the schedule will be the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship, which will be in Omaha, Neb., from April 27-29. The Bulldogs have lost their first-round match in every tournament in the last three years, but with the team’s recent success, this season looks to be different. It might be too early to think about the MVC tournament, but Thomson knows that his team might have a good shot at advancing with its current style of play.
“We aren’t changing anything at this point,” he said. “We are going to continue to keep working on what we have been doing so far and making those things better.”