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Drake Opens NCAA Championship With Regular Season Rematch Versus No. 22 Memphis

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: May 07, 2014
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The 45th-rated Drake men’s tennis team is making its fourth consecutive and eighth overall NCAA Championship appearance traveling to Champaign, Ill., to battle No. 22 Memphis on Friday (May 9).  Match time at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex is slated for 1:00 p.m.  A victory propels the Bulldogs into a showdown with the winner of the No. 12 Illinois/Ball State tilt on Saturday (May 10) at 3:00 p.m.

Fans may follow the action this week via live stats located on GoDrakeBulldogs.com or on Twitter @DUBulldogs.

Drake will be playing in its ninth NCAA Tournament match when it squares off against Memphis on Friday (May 9). The Bulldogs are 1-7 in their previous eight contests. Drake registered its first-ever tournament triumph last season besting TCU, 4-1, in Los Angeles, Calif.

1992 • Harvard (Athens, Ga.), L, 4-5
2006 • Oklahoma State (Stillwater, Okla.), L, 0-4
2007 • Michigan (Champaign, Ill.), L, 0-4
2008 • LSU (Champaign, Ill.), L, 1-4
2011 • Illinois (Champaign, Ill.), L, 0-4
2012 • Auburn (Champaign, Ill.), L, 2-4
2013 • TCU (Los Angeles, Calif.), W, 4-1
2013 • UCLA (Los Angeles, Calif.), L 0-4

Drake captured its eighth NCAA Tournament berth in program history after the Bulldogs registered a 4-0 victory over Wichita State on April 27 in Normal, Ill., to win the Missouri Valley Conference Championship.

The Bulldogs and Shockers split decisions on the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles courts to set the stage for a winner-take-all showdown for the doubles tally at No. 3.

Juniors Matt Frost (Cambridge, England) and Ravi Patel (London, England) garnered the point for Drake earning a 7-4 triumph over Jocelyn Devilliers and Ibian Hodgson in the tiebreaker. The win gave the tandem an 8-7 (4) victory and more importantly the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead entering singles play.

Junior Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England) extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-0 opening singles downing Hodgson at the No. 6 spot, 6-0, 6-1.

Patel followed with a 6-3, 6-1 triumph past Devilliers at the No. 5 position to stretch Drake’s advantage to 3-0.

It then came down to a battle between Frost and senior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) to see who would punch the Bulldogs’ sixth MVC Championship title and eighth NCAA Tournament appearance with a victory.

Fittingly, it was Goodman that catapulted Drake into the NCAA Tournament dispatching Guillermo Nicol on the No. 3 court, 6-3, 6-2.

Frost was leading his tilt with Guillermo de Vilchez at No. 4, 6-3, 5-3, when play was halted.

Drake advanced to the Missouri Valley Conference Championship match for the fourth consecutive year after the Bulldogs registered a 4-0 triumph past Illinois State in the tournament semifinals on April 26 in Normal, Ill.

The Bulldogs captured the only point they needed in the affair collecting a pair of 8-5 victories at the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles positions to assume a 1-0 lead.

Clinching the doubles tally on the No. 2 court was the tandem of Ben Mullis and Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina), who downed Muddappa Appanervand and Urh Kranjnc Domiter.

Robin Goodman extended Drake’s lead to 2-0 opening singles with a 6-0, 6-0 victory at the No. 3 spot.

Salibasic moved the Bulldogs to within a point of the triumph avenging a regular season setback to Erik Brunskog with a 7-5, 6-4 win.

Recording the match-clinching tally at the No. 2 position was sophomore Ben Lott (Newcastle, England), who bettered Jacob Wilson, 6-2, 6-1.

Drake had a school-record three players selected to participate in the NCAA Championship with their inclusion into the 64-player singles and 32-team doubles fields, respectively, as automatic qualifiers, the NCAA announced on April 30.

Alen Salibasic became the seventh Drake men’s tennis player to be selected to compete in the singles championship, while Robin Goodman and Ravi Patel were chosen for the doubles tournament.

Anis Ghorbel was the last Bulldog to compete for Drake at the NCAA Championship in 2013.  Ghorbel dropped a three-set affair in the opening round in Champaign, Ill.

Salibasic is ranked 68th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles rankings, while Goodman and Patel are No. 47 in the doubles ratings.

The singles and doubles competition will be conducted May 21-26 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championship, which runs from May 15-20 at the University of Georgia.

Drake equaled a school record with five student-athletes garnering first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference accolades when the league’s postseason men’s tennis awards were announced on April 24.

Headlining the group was Alen Salibasic, who was selected as the 2013 MVC Player of the Year. The honor marked the eighth consecutive year in which a Drake player took home the league’s top accolade since the award’s inception in 2007.

Chosen by his peers as the MVC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row was head coach Davidson Kozlowski. He shared the award this season with Dann Nelson of Southern Illinois.

A three-time league Player of the Week selection, Salibasic was named an All-MVC first-team selection in singles for the third straight year after posting a 3-1 mark in conference action en route to a 16-6 ledger in the dual campaign. As a sophomore, he was named to the All-MVC first team at the No. 2 singles position after earning first-team honors at No. 4 as a freshman.

Garnering first-team recognition in singles were Salibasic, Robin Goodman and Matt Frost, Ravi Patel and Ben Mullis at the Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 singles slots, respectively. The quintet finished with a 15-1 combined league singles mark, including a perfect 4-0 record from Goodman.

Being tabbed to the All-MVC first team for the second time in singles was Goodman, while Frost, Patel and Mullis all captured recognition for the first time.

Goodman owns a 23-6 singles mark this season, including 20-3 and 4-0, during the dual and conference campaigns, respectively. He will enter the NCAA Championship riding a 12-match singles winning streak.

In his first year as a Bulldog, Frost netted a 23-10 singles ledger and a 3-0 MVC mark.

Another newcomer for Drake this season, Patel has dominated singles play owning a 20-3 singles record, including 17-1 during the dual campaign. He has won his last 16 singles contests entering the NCAA Championship.

Rounding out the Bulldogs’ first-team selections in singles was Mullis, who has registered a 17-5 singles ledger, while sporting a 13-3 mark during the dual season.

The only other times that Drake has placed five student-athletes on the All-MVC first team was in 1997 and 2007.

In doubles, the Bulldogs equaled a school record for the eighth time as a pair of Drake tandems was recognized with first-team selections. Mullis and Salibasic won top-league honors at the No. 2 position, while Frost and Patel were tabbed at the No. 3 spot.

Mullis and Salibasic posted a perfect 4-0 record in conference matches, while Frost and Patel were 2-0 in league contests.

Pulling in MVC All-Select team accolades on the strength of a team-high 28-9 singles ledger was Ben Lott. Lott maintains a team-best 44-22 combined singles/doubles record this season.

Drake’s Robin Goodman, Ben Mullis and Alen Salibasic were each honored as first-team selections when the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete team unveiled its 2014 award winners on April 25.

Goodman and Salibasic were each named to the first team for the second consecutive campaign, while Mullis made his debut on the All-MVC Scholar-Athlete squad.

A native of Cambridge, England, Goodman owns a 3.56 GPA in business management and has posted a 42-18 combined singles/doubles record this season. A two-time first-team All-MVC performer in singles, Goodman owns a 23-6 singles mark this year. A three-time MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week selection during the 2013-14 campaign, Goodman owns a 192-62 career record, good for seventh all-time at Drake in combined victories.

A native of Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Salibasic, the 2013 and 2104 MVC Elite 18 winner for men’s tennis maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA in international business. A three-time first-team All-MVC performer, Salibasic has recorded a 38-20 combined singles/double mark this season. Named a first-team Capitol One Academic All-District selection in 2013, he was tabbed to the MVC Scholar-Athlete first team a season ago.

A native of Leicestershire, England, Mullis maintains a 3.5 GPA in law, politics and society. A first-team All-MVC honoree this spring, he holds a 29-16 combined singles/doubles mark this season. He is seventh at Drake (since 2006-07) in singles (64) victories.

Drake junior Alen Salibasic was selected as the Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Tennis Elite 18 Award winner, the league unveiled on April 27. Salibasic earned the honor for the second consecutive campaign.

The Elite 18 Award program was established by the MVC in the fall of 2010 to honor the highest achievement on academics and athletics by a student-athlete in each league-sponsored sport.

Modeled after the NCAA Elite 88 Academic Recognition Award Program, the MVC Elite 18 award is 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.

The Bulldogs’ tilt with Wichita State on April 18 marked the final home match in the Drake career of senior Robin Goodman. He enters the NCAA Championship with a 192-62 combined singles/doubles record over his four seasons, a total that is seventh-best in program history. He has posted a 42-18 combined singles/doubles record this season. Since 2007-08, he leads all Bulldogs with 110 singles wins, while also owning the fourth-highest total in doubles triumphs with 82.

Drake 4, Memphis 3 (March 21, 2014)
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Robin Goodman erased a 5-3 third-set deficit to secure a come-from-behind 4-3 triumph for the then 43rd-rated Drake men’s tennis team past 32nd-ranked Memphis on March 21 in the semifinals of the Hilton San Diego Mission Valley Spring Classic.

The Bulldogs fell behind the Tigers in a match that lasted nearly 4.5 hours, 3-0, before registering four-unanswered victories.

Memphis took the early advantage in the affair recording wins at the top two doubles positions to claim the tally and a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers moved to within a point of victory in singles with wins on the Nos. 1 and 4 courts, respectively.

Ben Lott began the Bulldogs’ comeback posting a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-2 victory over then 94th-ranked Joe Salisbury at the No. 2 spot.

Ben Mullis cut the deficit to 3-2 at No. 6 besting David O’Hare in three sets, 6-4, 1-6, 6-0.

Ravi Patel followed by netting his then 10th consecutive singles triumph edging Ian Chadwell, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2, at No. 5.

With the tilt squared at three, Goodman captured the first set of his showdown with David O’Leary on the No. 3 court, 6-4, before falling in the second frame, 5-7. In the deciding third set, Goodman fell behind 5-3 before rallying to force and win the tiebreaker to claim a 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (2) victory.

Illinois 4, Drake 0 (May 13, 2011)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Momentum can be a fickle beast and for the Drake men’s tennis team the mojo was within the Bulldogs’ grasp but they couldn’t capitalize as 17th-rated Illinois dealt Drake a 4-0 NCAA Tournament setback at the Khan Tennis Center.

The Bulldogs came into the match knowing that the ability to strike early and earn the doubles point would prove instrumental in their upset chances.

The tandem of Mauricio Ballivian and Anis Ghorbel was dominating at the No. 1 position dispatching of 78th-ranked Johnny Hamui and Abe Souza, 8-3.

The Bulldogs broke open a two-all tie with five unanswered tallies to assume a 7-2 lead and never looked back en route to victory.

The triumph allowed Ballivian to match Sergi Vila for fourth place on the all-time victory list at Drake with 194 career wins.

On court No. 2 the Fighting Illini tandem of Brian Alden and Dennis Novolo registered three-straight points to break open a 3-3 tie and hold off a late charge by Jean Erasmus and James McKie, 8-5.

All the attention turned to the No. 3 position where Cesar Bracho and Robin Goodman were battling Stephen Hoh and KU Singh.  The two sides exchanged points before the Bulldogs erased a 4-3 deficit with four answered to take a 7-4 lead.  Illinois though kept chipping away to tie the contest and then won the tilt, 9-7.

In singles, Drake jumped to early leads on five of the six courts before Illinois settled in and got back into its game making the Bulldogs work for every point.

McKie won his first set at No. 4 over 81st-rated Souza, 6-1, but couldn’t overcome his opponent dropping the second set, 6-3, and trailing 3-2 when the match was halted.

Ballivian nearly matched McKie in winning the initial set but 15th-ranked Nevolo rallied from a 5-2 deficit to garner a 7-5 decision before taking the second set, 6-1, to win the match.

Illinois earned triumphs at the top three slots to secure the victory.

•    Drake is making its eighth NCAA Championship appearance this week when it squares off against Memphis on Friday (May 9) and fifth all-time in Champaign, Ill.
•    The Bulldogs are seeking their first-ever NCAA triumph at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex when they battle Memphis. Drake is 0-4 in its previous four showdowns in Champaign, Ill.
•    Among active Drake players, the Bulldogs have posted a 7-7 combined singles/doubles ledger in the NCAA Championship.
•    Alen Salibasic paces Drake with a 2-1 singles mark in tournament play, while Robin Goodman is the only other Bulldog to notch an NCAA singles triumph.
•    In doubles, Goodman, Ben Lott and Salibasic have registered 2-1, 1-1 and 1-2 doubles records during the NCAA Championship.
•    After starting the campaign with an 0-3 mark versus ranked opponents, the Bulldogs have won nine of their last 11 matches against ranked foes.
•    Goodman and Ravi Patel are ranked 47th in the latest ITA national doubles rankings released on May 1, while Goodman and Lott are rated 88th.
•    Salibasic is ranked 68th in the latest ITA national singles rankings published on May 1.
•    Drake is currently riding an 13-match winning streak. Since the 2011 campaign, the Bulldogs have recorded winning streaks of seven or more victories on six occasions.
•    Drake’s 4-0 triumph past Wichita State (April 18) gave the Bulldogs their fourth consecutive 20-win campaign.
•    Goodman finished his Drake career 13-0 in regular season conference singles matches.
•    The Bulldogs extended their regular season Missouri Valley Conference winning streak to 19 with their win over Wichita State (April 18). Since 2011, Drake is 26-1 overall against conference foes with the one loss occurring against Wichita State in the championship match of the 2013 MVC Championship on the Shockers’ homecourt.
•    Since the 2007 season, the Bulldogs have registered a 42-2 regular season mark against league opponents en route to capturing regular season conference titles in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
•    Goodman owns a 20-3 singles record this spring and has won his last 12 singles contests.
•    Goodman registered his 100th career singles triumph with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Alexander Day of Princeton on March 20. He became the first Bulldog to reach 100 career singles victories since James McKie, who recorded 109 for Drake from 2009-13. He currently owns 110 career singles wins.
•    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 44-10 record, including a 16-1 mark at the No. 5 spot. The top half of the lineup owns a 53-17 ledger.
•     Lott leads the Bulldogs with a 44-22 combined singles/doubles ledger. He is followed by Goodman (42-18), Matt Frost (41-22), Patel (39-12), Salibasic (38-20), Ben Mullis (29-16), freshman Euan McIntosh (Edinburgh, Scotland) (13-6), junior Grant Tesmer (Lincoln, Neb.) (11-3) and sophomore Rakshit Rishi (New Delphi, India) (4-1).
•    The Bulldogs are 8-2 in their last 10 meetings with Big Ten Conference schools following their 4-0 win at Nebraska on March 9.
•    Patel owns a 17-1 singles mark this spring, including 16 consecutive victories.
•    Since the 2007-08 campaign, Goodman, Salibasic and Mullis are ranked first, fifth and seventh at Drake in singles victories with 110, 85 and 64, respectively.
•    Goodman and Salibasic are rated fifth and eighth in combined singles/doubles records since 2007-08 at Drake owning 192-62 and 145-64 ledgers. In doubles, the duo finds itself fourth (82) and sixth (60) 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 .846 (110-20) and .800 (64-16).
•    Drake owns a 121-34 (.781) record since the 2008-09 campaign, including a 56-6 mark at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
•    The Bulldogs sport a 92-15 (.860) ledger since the 2011 campaign.
•    Drake garnered nine MVC Player of the Week honors this spring. Goodman (Jan. 21, March 4 & 25 and April 22) earned the weekly honor four times, while Salibasic (Feb. 18 & 25 and March 18), Mullis (March 11) and Patel were recipients of the other awards for the Bulldogs.
•     Lott paces Drake with a team-high 28 singles victories this season. Cracking the 10-win plateau with 24, 23, 23, 20 and 17 victories are Salibasic, Frost, Goodman, Patel and Mullis.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This past fall, Kozlowski helped guide senior Robin Goodman and junior Ravi Patel to become what is believed to be the first Drake doubles squad to capture a regional title in program history.

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.

Drake had two players reach the semifinal round of the ITA Central Regional in singles for the second consecutive year as junior Matt Frost and sophomore Ben Lott advanced to the semifinals.

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.

A pair of victories gives the Bulldogs their first-ever appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship and a trip to Athens, Ga. A loss will draw the team portion of Drake’s campaign to a close.

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