Story by Taylor Soule
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center: home of the U.S. Open. Home of drama: It’s the only Grand Slam tournament with a fifth-set tiebreaker.
Home of two new records in Drake men’s tennis history.
Senior Robin Goodman and junior Ravi Patel became the first doubles team in Drake history to earn a coveted berth in the Nov. 7-8 ITA National Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y. Then, they won a round for another new record.
Despite high stakes at a venue famous for high drama, the Drake duo remained calm, thanks to an ‘enjoy-the-moment’ attitude — and a Harry Potter movie.
The night before their ITA National Indoor debut, Goodman and Patel watched “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”
“We were actually quite relaxed, watching ‘Harry Potter’ in the hotel room,” Goodman said. “We were just sort of chilling out. We were chatting and talking about the match, just watching the movie. We weren’t nervous.”
That calm vibe helped Goodman and Patel defeat Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka of Big 10 force Ohio State 8-6 on Nov. 7.
The Drake pair faced a power game from the Buckeye big men. At 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-3, respectively, Kobelt and Metka had big serves to match their stature.
Goodman and Patel opened the match with a 2-1 lead, but the Ohio State duo returned the favor at 3-2. Meanwhile, Goodman and Patel channeled their trademark strength, serve returning, and waited for an opportunity to break.
“Returning is one of our strengths, so we knew we would get a break eventually,” Goodman said. “We just had to stay focused, so when that chance came, we weren’t too far behind.”
That opportunity came at 5-6, when Drake broke the Buckeye serve to tie the match.
In that defining game, Goodman and Patel turned up the energy — and volume.
“We just didn’t give up and kept hustling, and eventually, we got the break back,” Patel said. “We got really excited and became vocal and everything, shouting ‘Go, Drake’ and stuff like that. I think our energy was just so high that we kept that momentum going all the way to the end to break back and get the last few games.”
Amid the drama of a comeback and yet another new record in Bulldog lore, Goodman and Patel remained grounded in a token of advice from Drake head coach Davidson Kozlowski.
“He said, ‘Stick to the stuff that you guys do well because you guys are capable of winning this match and winning the event, so don’t put yourself as underdogs because you’re not,’” Patel said.
Goodman and Patel fell 8-6 on Nov. 8 to Ross Guignon and Tom Kopinski of Illinois.
The Bulldog duo returned to Iowa with a second new record — first Drake doubles team to win a round at the National Indoor Championships — and the satisfaction of recognizing what really mattered.
“You see a lot of big names,” Goodman said. “It’s important to be confident in ourselves and not be taken in by the environment in New York in things. I think we did a good job of realizing what was important.”