Photo: Taylor Soule
The Drake men’s tennis team will return to the University of Minnesota this weekend for its final tournament of the fall season, the Gopher Invite at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
The setup of the Bulldogs’ last tournament is different than the usual fall tournament where there are multiple singles and doubles draws, and players compete on a more individual basis. The Gopher Invite will be a “hidden dual,” meaning it shares many similarities with the dual matches of the spring season. This format has schools play as a team, but instead of playing the same school in singles and doubles, it is split up.
“For example, on Friday we will play doubles against Denver and then play singles against Minnesota,” said head coach Davidson Kozlowski.
By splitting up the singles and doubles, none of the matches are considered “official” dual matches, which allows all teams involved to have more matches in the spring season.
“For freshmen, this is a great way for them to see what a typical college dual match looks and plays like,” Kozlowski said.
“I personally love the setup of the event,” said sophomore Ben Mullis. “Everyone gets to play regardless, which is exactly what we need at this time of year.”
The Gopher Invite will be extremely competitive this year, as five of the six teams ended last season with a national ranking. The invite will be made up by Drake, Denver, Minnesota, Nebraska, DePaul and Dartmouth. Of the competing schools, Kozlowski is most looking forward to playing against the Dartmouth Big Green.
“Dartmouth is a great team from the other side of the country who we rarely get the opportunity to see, let alone compete against,” Kozlowski said.
The Bulldogs will be giving it a go without senior Anis Ghorbel, who will be spending the weekend back home in Africa competing in a large national tournament. Kozlowski said Ghorbel’s absence will change the dynamic of the weekend in doubles, but not drastically. Teaming up with senior James McKie, in lieu of Ghorbel’s absence, will be Mullis.
“Ben Mullis is definitely someone that needs to be considered in the doubles starting lineup,” Kozlowski said. “Since Ben didn’t get a chance to play doubles at the ITA Regionals a couple weeks ago, this will give me a chance to take a look and see where he stands.”
After the Bulldogs’ spectacular play in the ITA Central Regional, they will be entering the tournament with a great amount of confidence.
“Robin (Goodman) and James (McKie) did brilliantly at the ITA Regionals and for sure this confidence has spread throughout the team,” Mullis said. “We’re all training together and competing together, so when one of us does well the confidence trickles down.”
The next issue of The Times-Delphic will have results from the Gopher Invite.