Story by Dominic Johnson
Photo by Morgan Dezenski
The No. 36 Drake men’s tennis team will travel to Iowa City this Saturday for a match against the Western Michigan Broncos. Both teams will enter the match with a huge amount of confidence, as each team is riding the momentum that a winning streak provides. The Bulldogs are hoping to win their 10th straight match at 10 a.m. this Saturday.
The Broncos are currently on a five-game win streak, with their most impressive win coming against Illinois State, Drake’s Missouri Valley Conference rival. Western Michigan won that match 4-3, and its doubles play was the most impressive. The Broncos dismantled the Redbirds, winning the necessary two doubles matches by the score of 8-4 in each match.
The Bulldogs have been focusing on their doubles play the last few weeks, and their performance against Western Michigan could be a barometer for improvement. The Drake players believe that their doubles has improved since their biggest win of the season against No. 30 Virginia Commonwealth on Feb. 9.
“Our doubles has been very good the last few weeks and our confidence is growing,” senior captain James McKie said.
Junior Robin Goodman echoed what McKie said and stressed the importance of starting the doubles matches with energy.
“We’ve worked a lot on our doubles and we have definitely made large improvements,” Goodman said. “Having said that, it is extremely important to play the doubles with a lot of energy and focus because without the energy, the doubles point can easily slip away no matter who you are playing.”
Although the Broncos are on a five-game winning streak, they have only played one match away from their home courts in Kalamazoo, Mich., and that was a 2-5 loss to then-No. 41 Northwestern.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, are 3-1 on the road, with two of those three wins coming against nationally-ranked opponents.
Despite being favored to win the match, the Bulldogs aren’t taking anything for granted, especially after narrowly defeating the Nebraska Huskers on Feb. 8.
“I think we have to go into the match expecting a battle because we went into the match against Nebraska too complacent as if we were supposed to win easily since we beat them 7-0 in the fall,” Goodman said. “We managed to win eventually, but they caught us off guard. I feel this has taught us a lesson so that we can be really prepared for a good match against Western Michigan.”
Goodman also mentioned that the underdog sometimes plays more high-risk, high-reward tennis when it is playing a nationally-ranked team, making it dangerous if shots are going in and it gains any momentum. Despite this, the Bulldogs are confident in their abilities.
“They will have nothing to lose so will play their best tennis, no doubt,” Goodman said. “If we are all ready to play, there will be no chance of an upset.”
Check back with The Times-Delphic next Monday for the results of Saturday’s match against Western Michigan.