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Junior Ravi Patel
Courtesy: Chris Donahue

Bulldogs Visit No. 49 Minnesota

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: February 19, 2014
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The Drake men’s tennis squad faces its second consecutive ranked opponent on Saturday (Feb. 22) as the 45th-ranked Bulldogs travel to Minneapolis, Minn., for a showdown with No. 49 Minnesota. Match time against the Golden Gophers is slated for 6:00 p.m.

A LOOK BACK
Drake extended its winning streak to three straight after garnering a 4-0 triumph at No. 70 Wisconsin last Saturday (Feb. 15) in Madison, Wis.

The victory represented the first win for the then 42nd-rated Bulldogs over a ranked opponent this season and marked the second straight year that Drake has bettered the Badgers.

Juniors Matt Frost (Cambridge, England) and Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina) clinched the doubles tally for the Bulldogs, corralling a 6-3 victory over Jakhongir Jalalov and Petr Satral at the No. 2 position.

Senior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) extended Drake’s lead to 2-0 in singles earning a 6-4, 6-4 decision at the No. 3 slot past Satral.

Junior Ravi Patel (London, England) moved the Bulldogs to within a point of victory dispatching John Zordani on the No. 5 court, 6-5 (4), 6-0.

Sealing the triumph for Drake at the top spot was Salibasic, who posted a 6-3, 6-5 (7) win over Oskar Wikberg.

Frost and junior Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England) were both leading their matches at the Nos. 4 and 6 positions, respectively, when the match was decided.

IN OUR LAST MEETING
Drake 4, Minnesota 3 (March 1, 2013)
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - A come-from-behind three-set singles victory from Jean Erasmus sparked the 27th-rated Drake men’s tennis team to a dramatic 4-3 victory over No. 66 Minnesota on March 1, 2013.

The win was the 12th straight for the Bulldogs and provided Drake its initial triumph past the Golden Gophers since an identical 4-3 victory during the 2008 campaign.

Drake head coach Davidson Kozlowski mixed up the doubles rotation and the results paid off as the Bulldogs stole the early momentum in the affair securing the doubles point with wins at the Nos. 2 and 3 slots.

Clinching the tally on the No. 2 court was the tandem of Ben Lott (Newcastle, England) and James McKie, who bettered Rok Bonin and Juan Pablo Ramirez, 8-4.

Robin Goodman kicked off singles for Drake besting Jack Hamburg at the No. 3 position, 6-3, 6-2.

Minnesota erased the deficit on the strength of consecutive triumphs at the Nos. 1, 2 and 6 positions to assume a 3-2 lead.

After dropping his first set versus Mathieu Froment on the No. 4 court, Alen Salibasic began Drake’s comeback staging a 1-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory to square the affair at three.  The win was even more impressive for Salibasic as he faced match point, down 5-2 in the second set, including 15-40 in the game, before staving off eight match points to claim the set in the tiebreaker.

Erasmus also fell in his initial set, 6-2, against Ramirez at No. 5, but displaying the fortitude of a senior he claimed the next two frames, including 7-6 (1) in the second set, to garner the win, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4.

SALIBASIC NAMED MVC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Missouri Valley Conference announced that Drake junior Alen Salibasic was selected as the MVC Men’s Tennis Player of the Week. The honor marked the second weekly accolade for a Bulldog this season and the third in Salibasic’s career.

Salibasic was honored after leading the Bulldogs to a 4-0 victory at No. 70 Wisconsin last Saturday (Feb. 15), registering the deciding tallies in both singles and doubles.

In doubles, he paired with Ben Mullis to record a 6-3 triumph at the No. 2 spot to earn the double tally.

In singles, he clinched the match for Drake at the No. 1 position downing Oskar Wikberg, 6-3, 6-5 (7).

On the season, Salibasic has garnered an 18-11 combined singles/doubles ledger and is 7-3 in his last 10 singles contests.

DRAKE ODDS-N-ENDS
•    The Bulldogs have won their last five meetings with schools from the Big Ten Conference.
•    Robin Goodman and Ravi Patel are leading Drake during the spring campaign with 4-1 singles marks.
•    The Bulldogs enter their showdown at Minnesota having won 22 consecutive matches in the month of February.  Drake’s last setback in the month occurred on Feb. 25, 2011 in a 5-2 setback at No. 27 Minnesota.  The streak is 20 in a row during February at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center dating back to the 2010 campaign.
•     Matt Frost leads the Bulldogs with a 26-12 combined singles/doubles ledger. He is followed by Ben Lott (23-12), Patel (17-7), Alen Salibasic (17-11),  Goodman (16-9), freshman Euan McIntosh (Edinburgh, Scotland) (13-6), Grant Tesmer (Lincoln, Neb.) (8-3), Ben Mullis (9-8) and sophomore Rakshit Rishi (New Delhi, India) (0-1).
•    Drake owns a 104-32 (.765) record since the 2008-09 campaign, including a 50-5 mark at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
•    The Bulldogs sport a 75-13 (.852) ledger since the 2011 campaign.
•    Drake currently owns a 35-match homecourt winning streak dating back to the 2010 campaign.
•     Frost paces Drake with a team-high 16 singles victories this season, while also cracking the 10-win plateau with 15 and 12 victories are Lott and Salibasic.

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.

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, 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.

UP NEXT
Drake returns to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center for tilts versus Graceland and Iowa on Feb. 26. Match times are slated for 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., respectively.

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