Showdowns With Three Ranked Opponents Await Drake
A challenging week awaits the Drake men’s tennis program as the Bulldogs battle a trio of ranked opponents in 30th-ranked Oregon, No. 67 New Mexico and 71st-rated Georgia State. Drake will put its 37-match homecourt winning streak on the line versus the Ducks on Wednesday (March 12) at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center beginning at 11:30 a.m. The Bulldogs then travel to Atlanta, Ga., for matches against the Lobos and Panthers on Sunday (March 16) and Monday (March 17), respectively. Drake squares off against New Mexico and Georgia State at 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. CT, respectively.
MULLIS NAMED MVC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Missouri Valley Conference announced that Drake junior Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England) was recognized as the MVC Men’s Tennis Player of the Week. The honor marked the second career accolade for Mullis.
Mullis registered a 4-0 combined singles/doubles ledger to lead the Bulldogs to a pair of road victories in Lincoln, Neb., over Utah and No. 44 Nebraska.
In Drake’s 7-0 win over Utah, he paired with junior Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina) to clinch the doubles point with an 8-7 (5) decision at the No. 2 slot, before capturing a 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 victory at No. 6 singles. The Utes have been nationally ranked this season and had beaten No. 44 Nebraska, 4-3, the evening before.
In the Bulldogs’ 4-0 triumph past the Huskers, Mullis clinched the deciding singles and doubles points, respectively. In doubles, he teamed with Salibasic to garner an 8-7 (4) victory at the No. 2 doubles spot. In singles, he recorded a 6-4, 6-3 decision at No. 6.
DRAKE GARNERS 4-0 WIN PAST NO. 44 NEBRASKA
In the finale to its weekend road swing, No. 45 Drake registered a 4-0 victory over No. 44 Nebraska on Sunday (March 9) in Lincoln, Neb.
The Bulldogs and Huskers each netted victories in doubles at the Nos. 1 and 3 positions, respectively, to set the stage for a winner-take-all outcome on the No. 2 court.
Senior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-0 in singles downing Hermann, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 3.
Sophomore Ben Lott (Newcastle, England) pushed the margin to 3-0 on the No. 2 court after posting a 6-3, 7-6 (4) decision over Tom Blackwell.
Mullis clinched the victory for the Blue and White registering a 6-4, 6-3 triumph past Vasileios Stavropolous at the No. 6 position.
Salibasic and juniors Matt Frost (Cambridge, England) and Ravi Patel (London, England) each held advantages in their respective matches on the Nos. 1, 4 and 5 courts when play was halted.
BULLDOGS SWING PAST UTAH, 7-0
The 45th-rated Bulldogs extended their winning streak to three on the strength of their third consecutive 7-0 triumph, dispatching Utah last Saturday (March 8) in Lincoln, Neb.
Lott and Goodman extended the Bulldogs’ advantage to 3-0 in singles collecting triumphs at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions, respectively.
Ravi Patel clinched the victory for the Bulldogs edging Lane at the No. 5 position, 6-3, 6-2.
Drake also received wins at the Nos. 1, 4 and 6 slots, respectively, from Salibasic, Matt Frost and Mullis.
IN OUR LAST MEETINGS
Drake and New Mexico are meeting for the third time and first since the 2000 campaign. The Bulldogs are encountering Oregon and Georgia State for the first time in program history.
• Robin Goodman enters action this week needing two singles triumphs to record 100 for his Drake career. The last Bulldog to reach 100 career singles victories was James McKie, who recorded 109 for Drake from 2009-13.
• In each of their last six victories, the Bulldogs have not allowed a point to their opponents. In the last 10 matches for Drake, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents, 43-13.
• Drake is 3-1 in its last four matches versus ranked teams.
• The Bulldogs are 8-2 in their last 10 meetings with schools from the Big Ten Conference following their 4-0 win at Nebraska on Sunday (March 9).
• Drake has received strong support from the bottom half of its singles lineup as the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 positions have combined to register an 22-4 record, including a perfect 9-0 mark at the No. 4 spot. The top half of the lineup owns an 23-11 ledger.
• Following Drake’s 7-0 triumph past Utah last Saturday (March 8), the Bulldogs are 2-1 the last two campaigns against teams from the Pac-12 Conference entering their showdown with Oregon on Wednesday (March 12). A year ago, Drake bested then No. 14 Washington, 4-3, on March 2, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minn., before falling to top-ranked UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Championship on May 11, 2013, in Los Angeles, Calif.
• Drake currently owns a 37-match homecourt winning streak dating back to the 2010 campaign.
• Matt Frost leads the Bulldogs with a 31-15 combined singles/doubles ledger. He is followed by Ben Lott (30-14), Goodman (24-11), Ravi Patel (23-10), Alen Salibasic (23-11), Ben Mullis (16-9), freshman Euan McIntosh (Edinburgh, Scotland) (13-6), Grant Tesmer (Lincoln, Neb.) (9-3) and sophomore Rakshit Rishi (New Delhi, India) (2-1).
• Salibasic owns a 6-3 record in his last 10 singles matches, including five straight wins.
• Drake’s setback at Minnesota Feb. 22 snapped a 22-match winning streak in the month of February.
• Patel leads Drake during the spring campaign with an 8-1 singles mark, including seven consecutive victories.
• Since the 2007-08 campaign, Goodman, Salibasic and Mullis are ranked third, fifth and seventh at Drake in singles victories with 98, 76 and 57, respectively.
• Goodman and Salibasic are rated seventh and ninth in combined singles/doubles records since 2007-08 at Drake owning 174-55 and 130-55 ledgers. In doubles, the duo finds itself fourth (76) and sixth (54) for the Bulldogs.
• Goodman and Mullis are ranked third and fifth, respectively, at Drake (since the 2007-08 campaign) in winning percentage in singles play with winning percentages of .838 (98-19) and .792 (57-15).
• Drake owns a 108-33 (.766) record since the 2008-09 campaign, including a 52-5 mark at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
• The Bulldogs sport a 79-14 (.849) ledger since the 2011 campaign.
• Drake has garnered five MVC Player of the Week honors. Goodman (Jan. 21 and March 4) and Salibasic (Feb. 18 & 25) each collected the weekly accolades twice, while Mullis pulled in the award on March 11.
• Frost and Lott pace Drake with a team-high 19 singles victories this season. Cracking the 10-win plateau with 15, 11, 11 and 10 victories are Salibasic, Goodman, Patel and Mullis.
• The Bulldogs finished the month of February having won 22 consecutive home matches in the month. Drake’s last setback in the month at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center occurred on Feb. 24, 2010, in a 4-3 setback versus Iowa.
DRAKE RECOGNIZED IN ITA PRESEASON RANKINGS
On the strength of its record-setting 2013 campaign, Drake 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. In singles, Matt Frost 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.
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 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 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 moved up to No. 16 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 Tennis 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, 38, 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.
Drake will travel to San Diego, Calif., to compete for the second consecutive year at the Hilton San Diego Mission Valley Spring Classic (March 20-22). Competing schools include No. 28 Harvard, No. 29 Memphis, Denver, No. 40 Purdue, No. 50 Princeton, No. 68 San Diego and San Diego State. The tournament draw will be announced following the release of the ITA national poll on March 18.