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Sports Tennis

Early momentum lifts Drake

Story by Taylor Soule

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MarielAnteFile-w2000-h2000Drake women’s tennis has a sole goal for 2013: Snap a 13-year drought. The Bulldogs have not won the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) team title since 2000. They took a step to that goal on Saturday as they beat in-state rival Northern Iowa 5-2 to open the 2013 Valley season.

The Bulldogs opened MVC play ready to take the doubles point and take the momentum.

“Doubles is huge for conference just because it’s the very first matches that are out there,” said senior Ali Patterson. “Automatically, if you get that doubles point, you have an upper edge.”

That outlook proved triumphant on Saturday, as Drake won two of three doubles matches to take an early 1-0 lead over the Panthers.

The No. 3 duo of Patterson and freshman Mariel Ante took the inaugural Bulldog victory on an 8-1 decision over Lindsay Cayton and Trisha Hinke. At No. 2, the pair of freshmen Maddie Johnson and Lea Kozulic fell to Jessica King and Chelsea Moore, 8-2.

That left just one match to decide the doubles point at No. 1. Freshman Jordan Eggleston and junior Klavdija Rebol edged Krissy Lankelma and Phoebe Walker 8-6 to take a 1-0 Bulldog lead.

Drake won four of six singles matches to complete the 5-2 victory over UNI.

At the No. 1 spot, Rebol fell 6-4, 6-3 to Walker. Freshman Evy Van Genechten dispatched Lankelma at No. 2, 6-2, 6-2. In No. 3 action, Moore beat Kozulic, 6-0, 6-2.

The Bulldogs won at the last three spots to seal the MVC win. Johnson defeated King 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4. At No. 5, sophomore Nell Boyd beat Cayton 6-3, 6-2. Eggleston dispatched Hink at No. 6, 6-0, 6-1 to round out the win.

Though Drake defeated UNI convincingly on Saturday, Patterson said she expects a tough road to the MVC title, thanks to teams like Wichita State and Southern Illinois.

“Wichita State has always been a tough one,” Patterson said. “For the past five or six years they have won the conference tournament, so they’re always a tough one. Southern Illinois is going to be another tough one. They are just very competitive, very loud, very outspoken, so probably, those will be the toughest.”

Drake awaits MVC rival Creighton Saturday at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.

As dangerous MVC foes loom, Eggleston said she strives to stay optimistic and share that optimism with her teammates.

“Just stay confident and be positive the whole time,” Eggleston said. “Do my best every match, cheering the team, leading the team in cheering.”


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