STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The Bulldogs traveled to Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 21 in the hopes of taking down Denver, but a strong showing from the Pioneers put an end to that dream.
Drake took another doubles point to open the match behind a 7-6 (7-2) victory from seniors Alen Salibasic and Ben Mullis.
“Me and Alen have a lot of experience to bring to the table, played together for a lot last year,” Mullis said.
That momentum carried into the beginning of the singles matches, but did not last long.
Ben Stride and Ravi Patel won the first two singles matches in straight sets, putting the Bulldogs one win away from victory, but they dropped the next four matches on the way to a 4-3 loss.
Senior Matt Frost played in the second position against Denver’s Diogo Rocha, the final, deciding match for the day. Frost won his first set in a tiebreaker, but then dropped the next two 3-6, 3-6.
Frost is known for his intensity and volume in matches, whether it be when he’s competing or cheering on his teammates.
“I play tennis because I love it, obviously. And if I didn’t enjoy it then I wouldn’t be as intense as I am on the court,” Frost said.
Assistant coach Danny Manlow likes the intensity he sees from Frost and the rest of the team, but knows that they need more of it if they want to start earning more wins.
“We just need to work on maintaining that intensity and just closing guys out on every single court. We may have lost our way a little bit there in the middle and we just need to maintain that level all the way through. I think that’s going to be the key,” Manlow said.
“When you have a defeat you have to rally together. So when we lose as long as we have to get behind every single one of the other guys,” Frost said.
Mullis feels a change in practice mentality will translate into wins on the court and get the Bulldogs back on the right track.
“We just need to tighten the screw a little bit more really across the practice court and taking that into matches. We’ve had a couple 4-3 losses that we shouldn’t have had this season,” Mullis said. “When it comes to it, we want to have taken care of all the controllables in practice and then those results and when the matches get tight they kind of take care of themselves a little bit more.”
The Bulldogs will face Iowa on the road this Friday, a match between two of the top teams in the state.
“We’re the one team that (Iowa wants) to beat more than anyone. They want to be the best team in Iowa and we want to be the best team in Iowa. So we’re going to have to bring the energy,” Frost said. “We can’t let our heads drop, because once you let your heads drop after a loss then it’s just like a downward slope … If we bring our best fight, we can beat them.”