STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The Men’s Tennis team kicked off their busy weekend in style, going up against Gonzaga on Friday morning at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center and taking all seven points possible on their way to victory. Only one match was forced into a third set, where freshman Ben Stride finished off his opponent handily, winning that set 10-3.
The Bulldogs then faced off with the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) at 4p.m. for the second match of the day.
Their success from the morning carried over into the afternoon, defeating UMKC 6-1.
Freshman Calum MacGeoch played the first doubles match of his collegiate career alongside senior Ben Mullis, winning 6-3.
MacGeoch struggled last week against Dartmouth in his first college match, but he redeemed himself on Friday.
“(Calum) let the nerves get the best of him (last week),” head coach Davidson Kozlowski said. “He really stepped up and showed us what he’s been showing us in practice and allowing us to have that confidence in what he can do.”
MacGeoch won in straight sets against Gonzaga, even after falling behind 3-1 in the first set. He had to fight for his win in a closely contested match against UMKC, 6-2, 5-7, 10-7, the rest of the Bulldogs cheering him on through the third set.
“It was close. I didn’t really think about it too much. I was just playing the points. He played a good tiebreaker in the end, but I got the win,” MacGeoch said. “Obviously last week was a really quite disappointing weekend, but I’m pretty proud today. (We) came back this weekend (and had) three good performances. Nice to get all the wins, so I’m really happy.”
Friday was also the first appearance of freshman Ben Wood. He fell in a tightly contested singles match against UMKC, but did pick up a victory in doubles with fellow freshman Ben Stride against Gonzaga.
“The guy is playing phenomenal doubles, so it’s good to get him out there and to show what he can do,” Kozlowski said.
The Bulldogs continued their busy weekend two days later, again at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center, facing off against South Alabama.
The Jaguars spelled bad news for the Bulldogs, defeating Drake 4-3.
“This morning was obviously extremely disappointing. It was the first time (in the three years) I’ve been at Drake that we lost three singles matches,” Kozlowski said. “I made a coaching decision to try to get a look at a few different guys, bring some guys back from injury, was hoping they could get some playing time before we head off to a brutal five week stretch and it backfired a bit.”
Stride was able to manage a victory alongside Bayo Phillips in their doubles match, winning in 12 games. Stride was one of the two players to win in singles.
“I think we made a couple of errors in our lineup, but we still should have won anyway. It was a couple of three setters that we maybe should’ve won, but it was tough, they played well on the day,” Stride said. “We win as a team we lose as a team.”
The Bulldogs turned it around in the afternoon, sweeping the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks 7-0, not losing a single set.
“It was very good. We came back strong. We put this morning behind us,” Stride said.
Stride dropped the first game of his singles match at the third position, but then hit his stride and won the next twelve games to secure his win.
MacGeoch played a flawless 6-0 first set in singles, but then struggled as the match wore on. He fell behind two games to three in the second set, but rallied and won the final three games in succession, leading to a final score of 6-0, 7-5.
Ravi Patel also continued his perfect season by winning all four of his matches over the weekend. He is now 8-0 on the season in singles matches and 21-1 in his two-year career at Drake.
“Ravi’s been great for us. It’s nice knowing we have him on the court day in and day out,” Kozlowski said. “He’s giving us a great solid effort, which is a good relief, a good reassurance from the coaching staff knowing we’re going to get a great effort from Ravi each time he steps on the court.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Madison, Wisconsin this weekend to take on the Wisconsin Badgers and the North Carolina State Wolfpack.