STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The Bulldogs men’s tennis team took down two teams ranked in the top 100 in the nation this past week, each one in close matches. They defeated Nebraska 5-2 on Friday and then squeaked past Dartmouth on Sunday 4-3.
Freshman Bayo Phillips attributed his team’s victories to their attitude and demeanor on the court.
“We came out strong with good intensity. We fought very well,” Phillips said. “We just came out with more intensity than the teams and we did what we were supposed to do to win the matches.”
Phillips fell in three sets against Nebraska, but redeemed himself on Sunday, winning his match, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. However, these scores reflect something that Coach Davidson Kozlowski thinks the team needs to work on.
“In singles, we jumped out and won a few first sets … and dropped some second sets. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re getting off to strong starts and then maintaining that level throughout the entire match,” Kozlowski said.
Ravi Patel respected his opponents, but felt that the Bulldogs were up to the challenge.
“We did what we do best, being loud and stuff against Nebraska, that helped. And then Dartmouth today, they’re a strong team, ranked high, top 50, so we knew that they were going to fire at us. And being loud and using each other to get through was the main key,” Patel said.
This respect for Nebraska and Dartmouth helped propel Patel to victory this week, winning each match in straight sets.
Kozlowski was proud of his team for earning the doubles point in each match as well, a point that would be the deciding factor against Dartmouth.
“When you get two evenly matched teams, two teams that are highly ranked in the country and they’re going at it, that’s going to be decided by so little, being able to get that doubles point really pulled us through,” Kozlowski said.
Patel feels that his team has been putting in a lot of work off the court. That extra effort is translating into wins on the court.
“We’ve got to practice how we’re going to play the match,” Patel said. “We’re a really energetic team so [we] just [have] to keep that up [and] we’ll have a great season.”
Even with practice as a big component of the success, Phillips believes that the team’s mentality could be even more so.
“For [the] Drake men’s tennis team the biggest thing is our intensity. I think that’s our biggest weapon,” Phillips said. “We’re working on everything, honestly … We have been working on everything as a team and getting better as a team. We have been growing and we plan to grow more as the season progresses.”
The Bulldogs have two doubleheaders this weekend, facing off against Gonzaga and UMKC on Friday at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center. South Alabama and Nebraska Omaha will travel to Des Moines to take on the Bulldogs two days later.