Story by Austin Cannon
When asked which of her players played exceptionally well at this weekend’s Drake Jamboree, Drake head women’s tennis coach Sadhaf Pervez responded immediately.
“Nell,” Pervez said. “I’m just really proud of Nell.”
Junior Nell Boyd played her best, from Pervez’s point of view, tournament of the fall season.
Boyd registered a record of 8-1. She went undefeated in singles, her only loss coming in doubles, where she and sophomore Jordan Eggleston fell to Annette Dohanics and Ellen Silver of Iowa, 8-6.
Boyd contributed her success to keeping a positive attitude.
“Before, I was playing the same level, but my attitude wasn’t as good. I was a little more negative, and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. This weekend, I was super positive. I never let myself get down, even if I was losing, and that just made me play better,” Boyd said. “It felt like I played better, even though I really didn’t. It just made me feel better after the after the tournament was done.”
During her impressive weekend, where opposing coaches were asking Pervez about how she had improved so much, Boyd beat athletes from Iowa, Creighton, Bradley and SIU–Edwardsville.
Overall, Drake finished with a staggering record of 25-8, 12-4 in singles and 13-4 in doubles.
Drake tied Iowa with three individual titles in singles. Boyd took the No. 2 crown. Sophomore Maddie Johnson won the No. 3 championship, and fellow sophomore Mariel Ante took No. 4.
Johnson and Ante also teamed up to win the No. 3 doubles title by going 3-0 on the weekend.
Johnson was happy to be playing back at the Tennis Center.
“It was fun to be playing back on our home courts. We started the beginning of the season that way, and I think just to see all the improvement we’ve made from the beginning of the fall season to the end was really fun to see,” Johnson said.
This tournament was played in a round-robin format, so each player played all other players in her division.
“This tournament was more similar to how our matches are going to be in the spring, so more of a team format, so I think I enjoyed that better, playing right next to my teammates,” Johnson said.
This concluded the fall season for the Bulldogs, who won at least a singles and a doubles title in all five competitions.
Now, the team gets a three-month break before returning to competition. Well, maybe not a “break” in the strictest of terms.
While on campus, the team only has limited time with Pervez. So, a lot has to be done on their own, including weight lifting and keeping up their level of play.
“Me, being one of the captains, I’m going to make sure we’re always hitting at least every day for one or two hours,” Boyd said. “As long as we’re hitting and still going through the motions, that’s what’s going to keep us at our level.”
The long winter break also presents a problem, when the team won’t have access to the Drake facilities.
Pervez is confident that her players will keep working on their skills.
“They can’t put the racket down. … They can always find time to play,” Pervez said.
It might be difficult, but Johnson is ready to build off the fall success.
“It’s not going to be easy. I can’t just say, ‘Hey, Jordan. Do you want to go hit?’” Johnson said. “There’s not many opportunities for me to hit at home, so it’ll definitely be hard, but I think we’re all motivated and determined to do well in the spring.”
Flip the calendar to 2014. Drake returns to action Jan. 26 with a dual match at home against Milwaukee.