Bulldogs Visit Lone Star State To Compete At ITA Kick-off Weekend
The Drake men’s tennis team faces its biggest challenge on the young campaign this weekend as the 32nd-ranked Bulldogs visit Waco, Texas, to participate in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Kick-off Weekend. Drake is in the Baylor regional of the event and opens competition against 28th-rated Auburn on Saturday (Jan. 25) at 4:00 p.m. A victory over the Tigers advances the Bulldogs into the championship match on Sunday (Jan. 26) at 3:00 p.m., while a loss places Drake in a consolation tilt at 11:00 a.m.
A LOOK BACK
The Bulldogs registered a 2-1 mark to open their season last weekend defeating Northern Illinois, 4-3, and SMU, 4-1, while suffering a 4-1 setback at No. 25 Tulsa.
Senior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) paced the Bulldogs with a 4-2 combined singles/doubles ledger. Drake also received three victories each from junior Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and sophomore Ben Lott (Newcastle, England).
GOODMAN SELECTED AS MVC MEN’S TENNIS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Missouri Valley Conference announced that Drake senior Robin Goodman was selected as the MVC Men’s Tennis Player of the Week. The honor marked the initial weekly accolade for a Bulldog this season and the third in Goodman’s career.
Goodman directed the 30th-rated Bulldogs to a 2-1 mark registering a 4-2 combined singles/doubles ledger, including a 3-0 record in singles to extend his regular season winning streak to 14.
In Drake’s 4-3 victory past Northern Illinois last Friday (Jan. 17), Goodman sparked a comeback for the Bulldogs posting a 6-1, 6-2 triumph at the No. 4 singles slot. He followed by dispatching 71st-rated Carlos Bautista at No. 4, 6-3, 6-4 to net Drake’s lone singles triumph at No. 25 Tulsa on Sunday (Jan. 19). Goodman capped his weekend against SMU on Monday (Jan. 20) garnering the doubles tally with junior Ravi Patel (London, England) at No. 1, 6-1, before registering a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles.
On the season, Goodman sports a 14-7 combined singles/doubles ledger, including a 3-0 record in singles during the dual campaign.
DRAKE RECOGNIZED IN ITA PRESEASON RANKINGS
On the strength of its record-setting 2013 campaign, the Drake men’s tennis team earned its highest preseason ranking in program history, as the Bulldogs were rated No. 30 in the initial Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll.
Coming off its sixth regular season Missouri Valley Conference title in the last seven campaigns and third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Drake established a school record for victories with a 25-4 mark last season. The Bulldogs return five letterwinners from a squad that finished the 2013 spring campaign with a No. 27 national ranking.
Robin Goodman and Ravi Patel were recognized for their efforts in doubles during the fall campaign as the duo garnered the highest doubles ranking in school history at No. 8 nationally. The tandem became the first Drake doubles team to win the ITA Central Regional doubles championship this fall before advancing to the quarterfinals of the ITA/United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Indoor Championships.
In singles, junior Matt Frost (Cambridge, England) made his debut in the poll at No. 123 nationally.
Also garnering regional recognition in singles were Goodman, Frost, Alen Salibasic, Patel and Ben Lott, who were tabbed seventh, 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th, respectively in the ITA Central Region. In doubles, Goodman and Patel are the top-rated duo in the region.
IN OUR LAST MEETINGS
The Bulldogs are squaring off against No. 28 Auburn for the first time since the Tigers garnered a 4-2 victory over Drake in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Championship in Champaign, Ill. The Bulldogs prevailed in their only previous encounter with Baylor, 6-2, on March 20, 1990, while Boise State owns a 3-0 series advantage over Drake.
The match with Auburn at the 2012 NCAA Championship came down to a pair of three-set contests in singles at the Nos. 3 and 6 positions, respectively, to decide the winner.
Jonathan Hadash and Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England) each recorded second-set triumphs for Drake to force the winner-take-all final stanzas.
In the final set, Mullis fell behind 5-1 to Lukas Ollert, before rallying to cut the margin to 5-3. Ollert, though, persevered to clinch the match for Auburn, posting a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory.
The showdown at No. 3 between Hadash and Daniel Cochrane was then halted with the Tigers leading, 5-4.
The Bulldogs came out in dominating fashion in doubles at No. 2 as the duo of Jean Erasmus and Robin Goodman, after dropping the first game, rattled off five unanswered tallies against Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso to assume a 5-1 lead. The Tigers netted two of the next three points, before the Bulldogs closed out the match winning the final two games to register an 8-3 triumph.
After falling behind at the No. 3 position versus Cochrane and Ollert, 4-1, the tandem of Cesar Bracho and Alen Salibasic whittled the deficit back to 6-4. Auburn, though, garnered wins in two of the next three games to collect an 8-5 victory.
All eyes turned to the top court where a battled ensued between Anis Ghorbel and James McKie and Auburn’s Andy Mies and Alex Stamchev. The ninth-rated Tigers’ duo took three of the first four games before the Bulldogs rallied back. In both the fifth and six games, respectively, Drake overcame 30-0 deficits to win the games and even the affair at three.
After dropping the next game, the Bulldogs posted three-straight victories to assume a 6-4 lead. Auburn responded by taking the next two contests to square the contest at six.
Both sides held advantages in the 13th game serving for the point, but it was Auburn that was able to convert to win the point and eventually the match, 8-6.
Auburn extended its lead to 2-0 in singles after 18th-ranked Mies dealt Ghorbel a 6-3, 6-3 setback at No. 1.
Salibasic cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 2-1 dispatching Lopasso at No. 4, 6-4, 6-4.
Goodman erased a 6-5 second-set deficit to force the tiebreaker, where he prevailed 7-5, to even the affair at two with a 6-0, 7-6 (5) win over Lengsfeld.
A YEAR TO REMEMBER
Drake capped its sixth regular season MVC title in the last seven campaigns and third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last spring. In the process, the Bulldogs registered their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory after posting a 4-1 decision past No. 34 TCU on May, 10, 2013, in Los Angeles, Calif. Drake was recognized for its efforts as five Bulldogs garnered national and regional rankings in the final ITA ratings, while as a team, Drake finished No. 27 nationally.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Drake returns five letterwinners from a squad that posted a school-record 25-4 ledger last spring, including a 5-0 regular season MVC championship.
Robin Goodman and James McKie led Drake with 65 combined singles/doubles victories each, while the Bulldogs also garnered combined win totals of 58, 45, 41, 40, 38, 26 and 18 from Alen Salibasic, Jean Erasmus, Ben Mullis, Anis Ghorbel, Ben Lott, Grant Tesmer (Lincoln, Neb.) and Ryan Drake.
Goodman registered a team-best 36 singles victories a year ago, while McKie and Goodman posted 31 and 29 doubles triumphs, respectively.
• Drake owns a 101-30 (.771) record since the 2008-09 campaign, including a 48-5 mark at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
• The Bulldogs sport a 72-11 (.867) ledger since the 2011 campaign.
• Drake currently owns a 33-match homecourt winning streak dating back to the 2010 campaign.
• Matt Frost leads the Bulldogs with a 21-9 combined singles/doubles ledger. He is followed by Ben Lott (19-8), Robin Goodman (14-7), freshman Euan McIntosh (Edinburgh, Scotland) (13-6), Alen Salibasic (13-7), Ravi Patel (12-5), Grant Tesmer (8-3), Ben Mullis (6-5) and sophomore Rakshit Rishi (New Delhi, India) (0-1).
• Frost and Lott pace Drake with a team-high 13 singles victories this season, while also cracking the 10-win plateau with 10 victories is Salibasic.
• Frost led the Bulldogs with an 13-3 singles mark this fall, while Lott, Salibasic and McIntosh added 11, eight and seven wins, respectively. In doubles, Goodman and Patel each registered a team-best seven victories.
DRAKE HEAD COACH DAVIDSON KOZLOWSKI
Davidson Kozlowski was named head men’s tennis coach at Drake on Sept. 6, 2012. This season marks his second campaign directing the Bulldogs’ fortunes.
Kozlowski came to Drake after spending seven seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
By virtue of their 8-5 triumph past Minnesota’s Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg, the duo earned a berth into the United States Tennis Association/ITA National Indoor Championship at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., where Goodman and Patel advanced to the quarterfinal round.
For their efforts, Goodman and Patel achieved a No. 8 national ranking, the highest in program history, in the 2014 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) preseason poll, while Frost checked in at No. 123 nationally in singles. As a team, Drake entered the 2014 spring campaign earning its highest-ever preseason rating at No. 30.
The 2012-13 campaign for the Bulldogs was one for the record books as Kozlowski helped Drake garner its third consecutive and seventh overall NCAA Tournament berth en route to establishing a school record for victories with a 25-4 ledger.
Drake entered the 2013 spring season with its then highest preseason ranking in program history by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), coming in at No. 45.
The Bulldogs opened their campaign with a tough 4-3 setback versus No. 33 Florida State at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Malibu, Calif., before rolling off 17 consecutive victories. During its winning streak, Drake registered triumphs on the road over No. 30 VCU (4-3), No. 66 Minnesota (4-3), No. 14 Washington (4-3) and No. 44 Memphis (4-1).
The Bulldogs achieved their highest ranking in school history on Feb. 26, 2012, as Drake was rated No. 27. The ranking was broken on March 5, 2013, after the Bulldogs downed No. 14 Washington, marking the highest-ranked opponent Drake had ever defeated.
The Bulldogs closed their campaign with a 6-1 mark, including a home win over No. 69 Wisconsin, en route to capturing their third straight regular season Missouri Valley Conference crown.
Kozlowski was honored by his peers for his coaching efforts as the 2013 MVC Coach of the Year, while senior James McKie garnered Player of the Year accolades for Drake for the seventh consecutive campaign. Joining McKie on the first team at the Nos. 2 and 3 singles positions, respectively, were sophomore Alen Salibasic and Goodman, while Jean Erasmus was tabbed to the MVC All-Select squad.
Despite being upset in the finals of the MVC Championship, the Bulldogs captured their first-ever at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Drake took full advantage of its opportunity registering the Bulldogs’ first-ever NCAA Tournament triumph, a 4-1 decision past No. 34 TCU in Los Angeles, Calif., before top-seeded UCLA posted a 4-0 victory over Drake in the second round.
Off the court, Goodman and Salibasic earned first-team All-MVC Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete honors, while Erasmus was chosen as an honorable mention selection. Salibasic garnered the MVC Elite 18 award presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point-average competing at the finals site of each of the league’s 18 team championships. He later went on to be named a first-team honoree to the Capital One Academic All-America All-District VI At-Large team, as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Senior Anis Ghorbel became only the sixth Drake men’s tennis player to be selected to participate in the NCAA Championship and first since 2008 with his inclusion as an automatic qualifier in the 64-player field. He dropped a 6-3, 4-6, 3-6 decision versus 11th-ranked Sebastian Fanselow of Pepperdine in the opening round at the NCAA Championship in Champaign, Ill.
Kozlowski, 37, 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.
A native of Sarasota, Fla., Kozlowski played collegiate tennis at Auburn (1994-96) before transferring to Florida State for his final two seasons (1997-99). While competing for the Seminoles, Kozlowski was a regular in the FSU lineup both of his years in Tallahassee and played No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles.
Following graduation from Florida State, Kozlowski played on the Futures and Challenger Circuit from 1999-2002.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from Florida State in 1999.
Kozlowski and his wife, Jennifer, have three children: Alex, Anya and Chase.
The Bulldogs return to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center to host UMKC and Green Bay on Feb. 7. Match times are slated for 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., respectively.