Story by Dominic Johnson
Photo by Morgan Dezenski
The No. 43 Drake men’s tennis team returned home to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center and continued its winning ways this past Friday. The Bulldogs added two victories to their resume after defeating Graceland and 2012 NCAA tournament participant UMKC.
Drake started off its four-game home stand with the Graceland Yellowjackets, a team that competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Bulldogs wasted no time in grabbing the early lead, as they lost only four games in the three doubles matches played. Drake took a 1-0 lead into singles play, where it was equally as dominant.
Senior Anis Ghorbel soon pushed the lead to 2-0 after a convincing 6-0, 6-1 victory over Graceland’s Raul Mendez, who holds a national ranking of No. 25 in the NAIA. After two losses in singles at the ITA Kick-Off last weekend, this was Ghorbel’s first victory of the spring season.
The next Drake victory came from sophomore Ben Mullis, who was playing at the fourth singles position for this match. Despite playing two positions higher than normal, Mullis cruised to an easy 6-0, 6-1 victory over Ignacio Osse.
The winning tally came from senior James McKie at the second singles position. Graceland’s David Uquillas, who carries a NAIA ranking of No. 29, was no match for McKie. McKie, who has a ranking of No. 68 in NCAA Division I, posted a 6-3, 6-2 victory to seal the match.
Sophomore Grant Tesmer, senior Ryan Drake and senior Jean Erasmus also won their matches in straight sets, at the fifth, sixth and third singles positions, respectively.
The Bulldogs then moved on to play the University of MissouriKansas City just a few hours later. UMKC was no team to overlook though, as it won the 2012 Summit League conference tournament to advance to the NCAA tournament. The UMKC roster was led by returning Summit League Player of the Year Grant Fleming.
Just hours after playing against Graceland, Drake captured the doubles point in speedy fashion, after capturing victories at the second and third doubles positions. The pairing of Mullis and Tesmer posted a flawless 8-0 victory at the third position, while Erasmus and Salibasic sealed the doubles point with an 8-2 win. Ghorbel and McKie, who are currently ranked No. 16 in the nation in doubles, found themselves in a tight battle against Grant Fleming and Tomas Patino. The Drake duo would avoid the upset though, as it went on to win 8-7 (6).
Like doubles play, singles was overwhelmingly in Drake’s favor. Erasmus was the first Bulldog to tally a singles victory over UMKC, as his 6-1, 6-0 win at the fourth position put Drake up 2-0. The next win came from No. 35 Ghorbel, who earned his second singles win of 2013 over Nino Hasandecic 6-3, 6-0.
“It was very important for me to get these two good wins to get back to my winning groove,” Ghorbel said. “I didn’t have a good weekend in Malibu, I was just back from a very long, tiring trip, so physically I couldn’t handle the conditions there, but now I feel much better. I rested well, and I’m moving my legs much better. I’m finding my game back, which is awesome.”
The clinching singles win came at the third singles spot, where No. 86 Salibasic easily dispatched Fleming. Salibasic came across minimal resistance in his 6-0, 6-1 win.
The only resistance against the Roos came at the second singles position, where Tomas Patino pushed McKie to a third set super-tiebreaker. McKie would eventually win 3-6, 6-2, (10-6).
“Played an ugly match, couldn’t feel the ball, and I was getting frustrated,” McKie said. “Sometimes it happens, and you just have to find a way to win and I managed to do that.”
Mullis and Tesmer posted straight sets victories at the fifth and sixth singles positions to give the Bulldogs their second 7-0 sweep of the day.
Drake finished its weekend with two more home matches, against Green Bay and Nebraska-Kearney, and those results will be available in the next edition of The Times-Delphic.