Story by Emily Gregor
Photos by Ryan Koch
The Drake University men’s tennis team started strong this past weekend at home at the Roger Knapp Invitational, with four players in the finals for the ‘A’ Flight Doubles and three in the semifinals for the ‘A’ Flight Singles.
“We had a great weekend. It was just kind of a fun way to get out of the practice zone and start competing a bit and get a feel for how things have been going,” head coach Davidson Kozlowski said.
In the ‘A’ Flight Doubles, the team ended up playing against itself. Junior Matt Frost played alongside freshman Euan McIntosh against junior Grant Tesmer and sophomore Ben Lott.
“All four of us being from Drake, it took us a little while to get competitive, so the start of the game wasn’t that good because we were all probably being a little too nice to each other,” McIntosh said.
“I just kind of pretended I was at a tournament at home, like I wasn’t playing for a team or anything. I was just kind of playing for myself,” Frost said. “Because you can’t really treat it as a team match when you’re playing someone on your team.”
Lott ended up thinking along the same lines entering the finals.
“I almost just tried to block out the fact that they were a teammate, someone on the other side of the net, trying to play against them, trying to win against them, just trying to forget that they’re your teammate, even though you still kind of have that respect for them that they are,” Lott said.
Frost and McIntosh together beat Tesmer and Lott 8-4 in the finals, after taking out players from the University of Nebraska- Omaha, Gustavus Adolphus and Northern Illinois University.
“It was good to see what level they were at and what level we were at,” McIntosh said.
The rest of the weekend proved to be a success, with Frost, McIntosh and Lott battling for the championship in the ‘A’ Flight Singles.
Frost began against Andrey Smirnov of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, beating him two sets in a row 6-1. After that he ended up against NIU player Frederic Cadieux, beating him 6-2 and 6-3 to make it to the quarterfinals.
After a valiant fight, it was down to Frost to take on Paluch Sunday.
In the end, he triumphed 6-2, 4-6 and finally, 10-7, to win the semifinal.
In the bottom of the bracket, Lott beat McIntosh, 4-6, 7-5, 11-9, to advance to face Frost.
In the final, Frost beat Lott, 6-2, 6-4.
“He was able to win both the singles and the doubles, so I was very pleased with that,” Kozlowski said.
Kozlowski attributes the Bulldogs’ success not only to the talent they have on the court, but also to the team’s practices.
“We try to keep the intensity at a high level throughout all of our practices,” Kozlowski said. “Whether it’s an hour or three hours, they are going after it for the entirety of the match, and their opponents feel that.”
Tomorrow, the team heads to Tulsa, Okla., for the All-American tournament.
“This is the biggest event of the whole season, so we’ll be seeing competition from all over the country,” Kozlowski said.