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Drake continues early season success at UNI Invite

Story by Austin Cannon

Photos by Joel Venzke

wtennis2_joel-w2000-h2000Drake women’s tennis continued its impressive start to the season by winning a singles and doubles flight at the Northern Iowa Fall Invitational, held in Cedar Falls, Iowa Friday through Sunday.

In the three tournaments they’ve played in so far, the Bulldogs have managed to win at least a singles and a doubles flight in each one.

Jordan Eggleston claimed her second singles title of the young season by winning the Gold Singles bracket.

She also paired with junior Nell Boyd to take the Purple Doubles championship in decisive fashion.

“I think, out of all the girls, Jordan had the best weekend,” head coach Sadhaf Pervez said. “She put more time on the practice court this week.”

Eggleston outscored her Friday singles opponents 24 sets to four.

wtennis3_joel-w2000-h2000She dismissed South Dakota’s Dragana Brankovic, 6-0, 6-1, before knocking off Naty Yacaman of Saint Louis 6-2, 6-1.

Iowa State’s Samantha Budai challenged Eggleston in the first set of their Saturday match, but the Drake sophomore held Budai scoreless in the tiebreaker and took the set 7-6. Eggleston then erased all doubt by eliminating Budai with a 6-1 victory in the second set.

Dana Shannon of Milwaukee faced Eggleston in the flight final on Sunday, and, well, it wasn’t close.

Eggleston played Cupid, marrying Shannon to the second place trophy with a convincing 6-0, 6-0 victory.

After having problems with nerves at last weekend’s Gopher Invitational, Eggleston put in extra preparation during the week.

“We practiced a lot more this week, which helped out a lot, so I felt more confident in my strokes,” Eggleston said.

Even with the extra practice time, the nerves still returned, but this time Eggleston was equal to the task.

“One I knew they were there, I would think of something else or get a song going in my head,” she said.

The song? Either “Classic” by MKTO or “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor, depending on her mood.

Eggleston was equally as dominant playing doubles, as she and Boyd took on Shannon and Aerielle Pendleton of Milwaukee in their opening doubles match and, after struggling early, downed them 8-5.

“We had a hard time getting into a grove, but we pulled it out. We came out tough and started being more aggressive,’ Boyd said.

The Bulldogs continued their aggressive play against the South Dakota team of Brankovic and Rymma Maslova, who they sent to the constellation bracket with an 8-4 victory.

In the semifinal, Phyllis Tigges and Sierra Stone proved to be no match for the Bulldogs, losing 3-8.

Sunday brought the final, where Eggleston and Boyd brushed aside Ashley Thai and Adele Henke of Bradley 8-2 to win the flight.

Eggleston credits the team’s doubles success to her coach.

“She knows exactly how to play doubles and it’s only her game style, so if you don’t play it, you don’t play,” she said.

“I think that doubles is something I’m a perfectionist at…We practice doubles every day,” Pervez said.

Boyd found herself at the top of the Purple Singles bracket, the top singles flight.

She earned her first victory by dispatching Maslova (South Dakota), 6-3, 6-1. The sky fell on Adele Henke after Boyd dealt her a 6-2, 6-3 defeat.

Boyd faced a setback in the semi when she was beat by Saint Louis’s Aspen Cervin 2-6, 5-7.

She didn’t have a chance to rebound from the loss, as her opponent, Stone, defaulted to give Boyd third place.

After beating Chelsea Bailey of Milwaukee, sophomore Mariel Ante fell to Northern Iowa’s Krissy Lankelma, 1-6, 4-6, in the Panthers Singles Flight.

However, she was able to recover and garner wins over Maria Toro (Saint Louis) and Carolina Abello (Illinois State) on Saturday and Sunday for fifth place.

Sophomore Maddie Johnson joined Eggleston in the Gold Singles Flight, but she had a more challenging weekend, going 1-2.

After triumphing over Milica Pavlovic of South Dakota, 6-0, 6-0, Johnson dropped a close match to Bradley’s Ari Dechter before he singles campaign ended with a loss to UNI’s Jieke Stroobant.

Elsewhere in doubles, the team of Ante and Johnson went 2-2 in their Gold Doubles flight to earn fourth place.

Junior Amanda Dick and senior Klavdija Rebol made a run to the  final of the Panthers Doubles flight, but they fell to Milwaukee’s Christina Colarossi and Kristin Kurer, 8-3, to take second place.

With a smaller roster than most schools, , seven student-athletes, the Bulldogs have work harder than the teams they play.

“We’re just outhustling and outworking people,” Pervez said. “We practice on Sundays after our matches.”

The team travels to St. Louis to work at the MVC Individuals tomorrow through Sunday.

“Our tennis bag is our briefcase,” Pervez said. “You can write that in the paper.”

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