WHAT’S AHEAD - After opening its week with a pair of victories in Florida, the No. 20 Drake men’s tennis team visits San Diego, Calif., to compete in the eight-team Hilton San Diego Mission Valley Spring Classic co-hosted by the University of San Diego and San Diego State.
The Bulldogs open competition with a rematch of an earlier contest this season as Drake battles Denver on Thursday (March 21) at 12:00 p.m. CT. Depending on the outcome, the Bulldogs will face either No. 44 Memphis or No. 38 San Diego on Friday (March 22) at 12:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. CT. Drake closes the tournament with one final match on Saturday (March 23) at 12:00 or 4:00 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs opponent will be from the field of No. 23 Harvard, No. 72 Oklahoma State, No. 37 San Diego State and No. 73 UAB.
A LOOK BACK
Drake opened its spring trip with a pair of 7-0 victories in Florida over Stetson and South Florida on Monday (March 18) and Tuesday (March 19), respectively.
Drake 7, Stetson 0 (March 18, 2013)
DELAND, Fla. - Drake collected its 14th victory in a row on Monday (March 18) as the 17th-ranked Bulldogs handed Stetson its first loss of the season, 7-0.
In its first outdoor match on the campaign, Drake assumed a 1-0 lead in the encounter after garnering the doubles point on the strength of triumphs at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions.
Clinching the tally for the Bulldogs on the No. 2 court was the tandem of freshman Ben Lott (Newcastle, England) and senior James McKie (Edinburgh, Scotland), who bested Didrik Berg and Simon Julin, 8-5.
McKie extended the advantage to 2-0 after dispatching Laurynas Antropikas on the top singles court, 6-1, 6-1.
Pushing the margin to within a point of victory at the No. 4 slot with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph was sophomore Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Downing Chester Espie at No. 5 to clinch the match for Drake at No. 5 was senior Jean Erasmus (Windhoek, Namibia).
The Bulldogs also received wins at the Nos. 2, 3 and 6 positions from senior Anis Ghorbel (Sfax, Tunisia), junior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) and sophomore Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England).
Drake 7, South Florida 0 (March 19, 2013)
TAMPA, Fla. - Drake captured a 7-0 victory over South Florida on Tuesday (March 19) to extend its winning streak to 15 straight.
The Bulldogs were thrust into a battle in the doubles competition as the Nos. 1 and 2 tilts came down to the tiebreaker to decide the winner of both the match and the doubles point.
The tandem of Ben Lott and James McKie garnered the clinching tally for the Blue and White for the second day in a row at No. 2, 9-8 (4).
Drake refocused its attention in singles and went on to sweep all six contests to earn the triumph.
Anis Ghorbel provided the Bulldogs a 2-0 advantage after registering a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win at the No. 1 position.
Extending the margin to 3-0 at No. 3 was Robin Goodman, 6-0, 6-1. Sealing the victory with the match-clinching point at No. 6 was Ben Mullis, 6-2, 6-1.
The Bulldogs also received wins at the Nos. 2, 4 and 5 positions, respectively, from McKie, Alen Salibasic and Jean Erasmus.
BULLDOGS NO. 20 IN ITA RANKINGS
On the strength of three Bulldogs owning national singles rankings, Drake is rated No. 20 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll.
Coming off its fifth regular season MVC title in the last six campaigns and second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Drake, which equaled a school record for victories with a 24-3 mark last season, returns eight letterwinners from a squad that finished the spring campaign with a No. 47 national ranking.
Seniors Anis Ghorbel and James McKie along with sophomore Alen Salibasic, each maintained a national singles rankings when the latest rating were released on March 12. The trio is rated No. 50, No. 121 and No. 125, respectively.
Also garnering regional recognition in singles were Ghorbel, McKie, Alen Salibasic, Ben Mullis, Robin Goodman and freshman Ben Lott, who were tabbed second, seventh, 11th, 12th, 19th and 20th, respectively, in the ITA Central Region. In doubles, Ghorbel and McKie were rated No. 2 in the region.
• Sophomore Grant Tesmer (Lincoln, Neb.) is a perfect 10-0 in his last 10 singles contests, while Robin Goodman, Ben Lott and Alen Salibasic own 9-1, 9-1 and 8-2 marks, respectively, over the same span.
• With his win at No. 1 singles at Iowa, James McKie registered his 100th career singles victory.
• Jean Erasmus is nearing 100 singles triumphs as well, as he enters the week with a 92-27 career singles ledger.
• McKie and Goodman both surpassed the combined 50-win plateau this past week as the duo owns 51 and 51 victories, respectively, this season.
• Led by a 13-2 singles record from Salibasic, every Bulldog owns a winning mark in singles during the dual campaign.
• All but one Drake player sports a winning record in doubles this spring, led by a team-best 11-3 record courtesy of Goodman.
• Goodman and Salibasic share the team lead with 28 singles wins, while McKie is one off the pace with 27 victories.
• McKie, Goodman and Salibasic pace the Bulldogs with 24, 22 and 19 doubles triumphs, respectively.
• McKie directs Drake with a 51-14 combined singles/doubles ledger. He is followed by Goodman (50-10), Salibasic (47-15), Anis Ghorbel (34-14), Erasmus (33-12), Ben Mullis (31-10), Lott (30-8), Tesmer (23-8) and senior Ryan Drake (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) (14-10).
• No Drake player in either singles or doubles has suffered double-digit setbacks.
DRAKE HEAD COACH DAVIDSON KOZLOWSKI
Davidson Kozlowski, an assistant coach the last seven seasons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is in his first season as head men’s tennis coach at Drake.
The Blazers concluded the 2011 season with a 17-9 overall record, their highest-victory total since posting 19 wins in 2000. UAB rose to as high as No. 59 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) ranking before concluding the campaign at No. 75.
During his tenure in Birmingham, Kozlowski spearheaded recruiting, assisted with team travel and budget management and coordinated fundraising and community outreach.
Kozlowski, 36, came to UAB after spending three years as the Director of Tennis at Birchtree Swim and Racquet Club, a position he continued to hold until his appointment at Drake.
Drake opens defense of its 2012 Missouri Valley Conference title on March 30 as the Bulldogs travel to face Creighton. Match time is slated for 1:00 p.m.