STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The Men’s Tennis team managed to split a pair of matches in Minneapolis this past weekend. They defeated the University of Washington Huskies 4-3 on Saturday, but then fell to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Golden Gophers by the same score the next day.
Drake got off to a rough start against Washington, surrendering the doubles point despite a victory from seniors Alen Salibasic and Ben Mullis.
“(Washington is) a very difficult team to match up with. They’re very deep, one through four, any of those guys could play one for them and then there’s not much drop off at five or six there,” head coach Davidson Kozlowski said.
Washington was ranked 54 in the nation before entering the match, but both Kozlowski and Mullis feel that they should be higher up considering how competitive the Huskies are on the court.
“Washington is kind of under-ranked at the moment, given how good they are as a team,” Mullis said.
The Bulldogs then fell behind 2-0 when junior Ben Lott, ranked 34 in the nation, lost to the Huskies’ number one player Mitch Stewart 6-3, 6-3.
Drake was still able to battle back as Salibasic, Ravi Patel and Matt Frost all won in straight sets to put their team back on top 3-2, one point away from victory.
“We were prepared for a war and that’s exactly what it was. It was a war. Every court was fighting,” Patel said.
The match fell into a 3-3 tie when Ben Stride couldn’t pull off a comeback in his match. He dropped the first set in a 7-3 tiebreaker and wasn’t able to recover in set two.
The pressure then fell again on freshman Calum MacGeoch, who was in the same do-or-die situation on Feb. 14 against North Carolina State.
After falling behind 1-5 in the third set MacGeoch battled back. He faced match points three different times, but remained unphased as he brought the set back to a 6-6 tie.
That momentum carried into the match-deciding tiebreaker, winning 7-3 and sealing the victory for the Bulldogs.
“We knew that the doubles point would be crucial, but for us to be able to come back and pick that win up after picking up the doubles point again just shows the great depth of our team,” Kozlowski said. “Calum was fantastic again, playing his best tennis when the match was on the line.”
Patel was ecstatic after his team’s victory and his freshman teammate’s clutch win.
“That was sweet. We knew they were going to be a good team coming into that match. They’re probably more lowly ranked than they should be,” Patel said. “But we did well, especially Calum at the end. Credit to him for pulling that one after being 5-1 down.”
Sunday’s match began the same way with Salibasic and Mullis winning their doubles match but Drake still giving up the first point of the day to 34th ranked Minnesota.
Stride fell 6-1, 6-2 leaving the Bulldogs behind 2-0 for the second match in a row.
Salibasic bounced back from a first set 1-6 loss with 6-4, 6-2 wins in the second and third sets to put the Bulldogs back within one.
Patel wasn’t able to tie the score as he lost 6-1, 6-4, his second loss in dual matches this season.
Lott and MacGeoch were both able to pull off three set wins, leaving the pressure on senior Matt Frost to pull off the second comeback win of the weekend, but he was unable to pull it off.
Frost had lost the first set 4-6, won the second 6-2, then lost the match in a 6-4 third set, despite being ahead early.
This loss snaps a four match winning streak for the Bulldogs.
Drake was ranked 24th entering the weekend, the highest ranking they have had all season. Even with the loss the Bulldogs have remained in the top-25 as they enter a slew of tough matches in Tampa and San Diego during spring break.