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Junior Ben Mullis
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Drake Hosts Graceland Before In-State Showdown Versus No. 55 Iowa

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: February 25, 2014
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The Drake men’s tennis team returns to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center this Wednesday (Feb. 26) hosting Graceland University and No. 55 Iowa. The 65th-rated Bulldogs, who currently own a 35-match homecourt winning streak dating back to the 2010 campaign, open their day battling the Yellowjackets at 10:00 a.m. before their annual in-state showdown with the Hawkeyes at 6:00 p.m.

A LOOK BACK
The then 45th-rated Drake men’s tennis team saw its three-match winning streak snapped last Saturday (Feb. 22) as No. 49 Minnesota edged the Bulldogs, 4-3, at the Baseline Tennis Center.

The outcome of the match was decided in doubles play as the Golden Gophers garnered a pair of 7-2 triumphs in the tiebreaker on court No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, to earn what ultimately proved to be the winning point in the affair.

Junior Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina) evened the contest at one in singles on the strength of a 6-4, 6-0 triumph over 80th-ranked Leandro Toledo at the No. 1 position.

The Golden Gophers regained the lead after Jack Hamburg dealt senior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) a 6-2, 6-2 setback at the No. 3 slot.

Minnesota extended its margin to 3-1 after Eric Frueh edged junior Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England) on court No. 6, 6-0, 6-4.

Junior Ravi Patel (London, England) cut Drake’s deficit to 3-2 downing Juan Pablo Ramirez at No. 5, 6-3, 6-1.

Ruben Weber clinched the victory for the Golden Gophers with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory past sophomore Ben Lott (Newcastle, England) at the No. 2 position.

With the outcome of the match already decided, junior Matt Frost (Cambridge, England) rallied for a come-from-behind 3-6, 6-4, 10-5 triumph over Mathieu Froment at No. 4.

IN OUR LAST MEETINGS
Drake 7, Graceland 0 (Feb. 1, 2013)
DES MOINES, Iowa - Drake opened its 2013 home campaign registering a 7-0 triumph past Graceland University at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.

The then No. 43 Bulldogs garnered triumphs in all three doubles matches, securing the tally on the strength of an 8-1 decision from Jean Erasmus and Alen Salibasic.

Drake extended its advantage to 3-0 in singles following wins by Anis Ghorbel and Ben Mullis on the Nos. 1 and 4 courts, respectively.

James McKie clinched the match at the No. 2 slot, 6-3, 6-2.

Adding to Drake’s win total in the affair with triumphs at the Nos. 3, 5 and 6 positions, respectively, were Erasmus, Grant Tesmer (Lincoln, Neb.) and Ryan Drake.

Drake 5, Iowa 2 (Feb. 27, 2013)
IOWA CITY, Iowa - On the heels of attaining the then highest ranking in program history, the 27th-ranked Drake men’s tennis team captured a 5-2 victory in its in-state showdown at Iowa.

The Bulldogs earned wins in two of the three doubles matches to secure the doubles tally.  
Overcoming a 5-4 deficit en route to notching a 9-8 victory over Jonas Dierckx and Matt Hagan to earn the doubles point for the Bulldogs at No. 2 was Alen Salibasic and Ben Lott.

James McKie extended Drake’s lead to 2-0 at the No. 1 singles slot, 6-4, 6-2. Pushing the margin to 3-0 was Jean Erasmus, at No. 6, 6-3, 6-4.

Dominic Patrick garnered the initial tally for the Hawkeyes in the affair cutting Drake’s lead to 3-1, downing Lott at No. 5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

After collecting a 6-4 decision in his opening set on court No. 3, Salibasic came from behind in the second frame to notch a 7-6 (5) triumph to clinch the match for the Bulldogs.

Mullis capped the win total for Drake coming from behind to register a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory at the No. 5 position.

SALIBASIC REPEATS AS 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. Salibasic was honored for the second consecutive week and for the fourth time in his career.

Salibasic registered a pair of wins for the Bulldogs in their 4-3 setback at No. 49 Minnesota on Saturday (Feb. 22).  In doubles, he paired with Ben Mullis to record an 8-4 decision at No. 2 doubles. 

In singles, Salibasic collected a 6-4, 6-0 triumph over 80th-rated Leandro Toledo at the No. 1 singles position. The victory was his second against a ranked opponent this season. 

On the year, Salibasic owns a 19-11 combined singles/doubles ledger.

DRAKE ODDS-N-ENDS
•    The Bulldogs enter their showdown with Graceland having won 20 consecutive home matches in the month of February.  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 currently owns a 35-match homecourt winning streak dating back to the 2010 campaign.
•     Matt Frost leads the Bulldogs with a 27-13 combined singles/doubles ledger. He is followed by Ben Lott (23-14), Alen Salibasic (19-11), Ravi Patel (18-8), Robin Goodman (16-11), freshman Euan McIntosh (Edinburgh, Scotland) (13-6), Ben Mullis (10-9), Grant Tesmer (8-3) and sophomore Rakshit Rishi (New Delhi, India) (0-1).
•    Salibasic owns a 7-3 record in his last 10 singles matches, including three straight wins.
•    Drake’s setback at Minnesota last Saturday (Feb. 22) snapped a 22-match winning streak in the month of February.
•    Patel leads Drake during the spring campaign with a 5-1 singles mark.
•    Since the 2007-08 campaign, Goodman, Salibasic and Mullis are ranked fourth, fifth and eighth at Drake in singles victories with 94, 74 and 53, respectively.
•    Goodman and Salibasic are rated seventh and ninth in combined singles/doubles records since 2007-08 at Drake owning 166-55 and 126-55 ledgers. In doubles, the duo finds itself fourth (72) and sixth (52) 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 .832 (94-19) and .779 (53-15).
•    Drake owns a 104-33 (.759) record since the 2008-09 campaign, including a 50-5 mark at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
•    The Bulldogs sport a 75-14 (.843) ledger since the 2011 campaign.
•     Frost paces Drake with a team-high 17 singles victories this season, while also cracking the 10-win plateau with 15 and 13 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 travels to Lincoln, Neb., to battle No. 51 Utah and No. 50 Nebraska on March 8 and March 9, respectively. Both contests are scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m.

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