BY ADAM ROGAN
The Drake Bulldogs were thrashed by the Kansas State Wildcats on Sunday, getting shut out 4-0. The Bulldogs only won two sets on the day in their first outdoor match of the season, Drake is now 5-5 in 2016, but 0-4 in road matches.
In doubles, Mariel Ante and Tess Herder were actually ahead 4-3 when their match was cut short after Mela Jaglarz and Summer Brills lost their match 6-3. Maddie Johnson and Joely Lomas had fallen 6-1 earlier on.
Jaglarz and Ante were the first to fall in singles, both in straight sets. Brills was able to stay alive in the second set after losing the first 6-2, but wasn’t able to stave off Wildcat Sara Castellano’s attack. Castellano won the set 6-4 to give Kansas State the match-ending fourth point.
Even if the team match had been decided, the singles matches continued as the Bulldogs kept battling.
Johnson won the second set and almost took the third (and the match) in a super tiebreaker, but wasn’t able to finish the job and lost 11-9.
“For me, personally, getting off to a better start in matches is important because when you have such close matches like that anything can happen,” Johnson said. “When it gets close in the end (I need to be) aggressive and sticking with what’s been working and trusting my shots is really important because I think I got a little bit hesitant once I got ahead in the tiebreaker and then she started winning more points and that was the match.”
Interim head coach Hollimon spoke highly of Johnson’s performance, believing that the close match shows signs of wins to come.
“I feel fully confident that if it had been a full third set Maddie would’ve won that match,” Hollimon said.
Freshman Joely Lomas won her first set, the only Bulldog to do so, but was unable to keep up the pace and lost the next two sets 6-2, 6-0.
“(Lomas) is a young player,” Hollimon said. “She needs to get more experience under her belt I think. She needs to play a lot of these tough, three set matches before she’s able to win a lot of them.”
Drake will end its road trip this weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska, with a pair of matches against the University of Nebraska and the University of South Dakota on Saturday.
Those will be the Bulldogs’ last two road matches until April 9, with a slew of home matches at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center scheduled throughout March.
“I think (playing at home) is going to be huge,” Hollimon said. “A: because we’re going to have a lot of energy here at home. B: because they’re going to be the courts we’re used to. They play fast, they play into our players’ styles well.”