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Seniors Anis Ghorbel, James McKie, Jean Erasmus and Ryan Drake
Courtesy: Sean Palchick

Bulldogs Look To Earn MVC Title Battling Illinois State And Bradley

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: April 17, 2013
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WHAT’S AHEAD
The Drake men’s tennis team returns to the Roger Knapp Tennis Center for the first time in over two months this weekend hosting Illinois State and Bradley on Saturday (April 20) and Sunday (April 21), respectively.  Sprinkled into the mix is a late schedule addition, as the Bulldogs will entertain No. 69 Wisconsin on Saturday (April 20) at 10:00 a.m.  Drake is seeking to earn its third consecutive Missouri Valley Conference regular season title with a pair of league victories.  The match versus the Redbirds is slated to begin at 2:00 p.m., while the showdown with the Braves starts at 11:00 a.m.

ONE FINAL HOMESTAND
The Bulldogs’ tilts with Wisconsin, Illinois State and Bradley this weekend represent the final home matches in the Drake careers of seniors Ryan Drake (Hilton Head Island, S.C.), Jean Erasmus (Windhoek, Namibia), Anis Ghorbel (Sfax, Tunisia) and James McKie (Edinburgh, Scotland).

The quartet enters this weekend with 62-51, 173-72, 133-39 and 197-77 combined singles/doubles records, respectively, over their four seasons. The Bulldogs are 38-2 at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center during their careers, including wins in Drake’s last 29 home matches.

Erasmus is a three-time All-MVC performer, earning first-team accolades in singles in 2011, while being honored in doubles in 2011 and 2012.  Ghorbel has garnered first-team recognition in both singles and doubles in 2011 and 2012.  After corralling MVC all-select team honors as a freshman and sophomore, McKie brought home first-team laurels in singles in 2012 after collecting first-team recognition in doubles in each of his first three campaigns.

IN OUR LAST ENCOUNTERS
Drake 4, Illinois State 0 (April 18, 2012)
OMAHA, Neb. - No. 48 Drake advanced to the title match of the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship after the Bulldogs dispatched Illinois State, 4-0, in the semifinal round of the league championship.

Drake captured the doubles point behind victories at the Nos. 1 and 2 positions, with the tandem of Anis Ghorbel and James McKie clinching the tally following an 8-3 triumph at No. 1.

Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England) extended the Bulldogs’ lead in singles downing Jordan Badenko at No. 6, 6-0, 6-1.

Pushing Drake to within a point of victory at the No. 1 position was Ghorbel, with a 6-0, 6-4 triumph.

Turning in the match-clinching point at No. 2, 6-1, 6-2 was McKie.

Drake 6, Illinois State 1 (April 7, 2012)
NORMAL, Ill. - Posting 20 victories for the second-straight season, Drake recorded a 6-1 triumph at Illinois State.

Drake claimed the doubles point in the affair registering decisions at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions, including the duo of Cesar Bracho and Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina) clinching the deciding tally with an 8-3 victory at No. 3.

In singles, James McKie gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead after dispatching Tuomas Manner at the No. 2 hole, 6-3, 6-1.  Extending the margin to 3-0 at No. 5 was Salibasic, 6-2, 6-2.

Jonathan Hadash locked in win No. 20 for Drake at the No. 3 position, 6-4, 6-2.  The Bulldogs also garnered triumphs at the Nos. 4 and 6 slots from Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) and Ben Mullis.

Drake 7, Bradley 0 (April 6, 2012)
PEORIA, Ill. - Notching its sixth-consecutive victory, Drake posted a 7-0 win over Bradley.

The tandem of Jean Erasmus and Robin Goodman clinched the doubles tally for the Bulldogs at the No. 2 position, 8-3.

Ben Mullis pushed Drake’s lead to 2-0 in singles following his 6-2, 6-0 victory at No. 6.  Goodman added a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 5 to stretch the Bulldogs’ advantage to 3-0.

Sealing Drake’s fourth-straight 7-0 decision, at the top court, was Anis Ghorbel, 7-5, 6-0.

The Bulldogs garnered victories at the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 positions from James McKie, Jonathan Hadash and Alen Salibasic to close out their victory total on the day.

A LOOK BACK
Drake 4, Southern Illinois 3 (April 13, 2013)
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The 28th-ranked Drake men’s tennis squad registered its 20th victory on the strength of a 4-3 triumph at Southern Illinois last Saturday (April 13).

The Salukis stole the early momentum in the affair capturing victories at the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles positions to secure the doubles tally and take a 1-0 lead into singles play.

The Bulldogs were undaunted by the deficit as Drake collected four unanswered triumphs to post its third-consecutive 20-win campaign.

James McKie began the rally dispatching Brandon Florez on the No. 1 court, 6-2, 6-4.  Ben Mullis put the Bulldogs ahead to stay besting Martijn Admiraal at No. 5, 6-2, 6-1.

Garnering his team-leading 34th singles win of the season at the No. 3 position to give Drake a 3-1 advantage was Robin Goodman, who downed Badr Cherradi, 6-3, 6-2.

Earning the match-clinching point with a 6-4, 6-0 triumph at the No. 6 slot over Rafael Cuadrillero was Ryan Drake.

Southern Illinois captured a pair of third-set tiebreakers on the Nos. 2 and 4 courts to account for the final 4-3 margin.

BULLDOGS NO. 27 IN ITA RANKINGS
On the strength of three Bulldogs owning national singles rankings, Drake is rated No. 27 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll.

Coming off its fifth regular season MVC title in the last six campaigns and second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Drake equaled a school record for victories with a 24-3 mark last season.  The Bulldogs return eight letterwinners from a squad that finished the spring campaign with a No. 47 national ranking.

Senior Anis Ghorbel, along with junior Robin Goodman, each maintained a national singles ranking when the latest ratings were released on April 16.  The duo is rated No. 60 and No. 111, respectively.

Also garnering regional recognition in singles were Ghorbel, James McKie, Alen Salibasic, Ben Mullis, Robin Goodman and freshman Ben Lott, who were tabbed second, seventh, 11th, 12th, 19th and 20th, respectively, in the ITA Central Region.  In doubles, Ghorbel and McKie were rated No. 2 in the region.

DRAKE ODDS-N-ENDS
•    Senior James McKie moved past Mauricio Ballivian (2008-11) and Sergi Vila (2003-07) into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time victory list at Drake with a triumph last weekend at Southern Illinois.  McKie now owns 197 career wins and needs three victories to become only the fourth Bulldog to reach the 200-win plateau at Drake.
•    Senior Jean Erasmus is 10th in school history with 173 career victories.  He is four wins shy of surpassing Ivan Mendoza (2005-09) and matching Jonathan Tishler (2001-06) for eighth place on the Drake career leaderboard.
•    Drake currently owns a 29-match homecourt winning streak dating back to the 2010 campaign.
•    Sophomore Grant Tesmer (Lincoln, Neb.) and Robin Goodman are a perfect 10-0 in their last 10 singles contests.
•    With his win at No. 1 singles at Iowa (Feb. 27), McKie registered his 100th career singles victory.
•    Erasmus is nearing 100 singles triumphs as well, as he enters the week with a 93-29 career singles ledger.
•     Goodman, McKie and Alen Salibasic have surpassed the combined 50-win plateau this season as the trio owns 59, 58 and 52 victories, respectively.
•    Led by a 18-2 singles record from Goodman, every Bulldog owns a winning mark in singles during the dual campaign.
•    All but one Drake player sports a winning record in doubles this spring, led by a team-best 14-6 record courtesy of Goodman.
•    Goodman leads with 34 singles wins, while Salibasic and McKie have posted 31 and 31 victories, respectively.
•    McKie, Goodman, Ghorbel and Salibasic pace the Bulldogs with 27, 25, 21 and 21 doubles triumphs, respectively.
•    Goodman directs Drake with a 59-13 combined singles/doubles ledger.  He is followed by McKie (58-17), Salibasic (52-21), Anis Ghorbel (36-16), Ben Mullis (37-11), Erasmus (37-17), Lott (32-11), Tesmer (25-8) and Ryan Drake (16-11).
•    No Drake player in singles has suffered double-digit setbacks, while only three have done so in doubles.

DRAKE HEAD COACH DAVIDSON KOZLOWSKI
Davidson Kozlowski, an assistant coach the last seven seasons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is in his first season as head men’s tennis coach at Drake.

The Blazers concluded the 2011 season with a 17-9 overall record, their highest-victory total since posting 19 wins in 2000.  UAB rose to as high as No. 59 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) ranking before concluding the campaign at No. 75.

During his tenure in Birmingham, Kozlowski spearheaded recruiting, assisted with team travel and budget management and coordinated fundraising and community outreach.

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.

UP NEXT
Drake opens defense of its 2012 MVC Championship crown as the Bulldogs travel to Wichita, Kan., to compete in the conference tournament that runs next Friday (April 26) through Sunday (April 28).

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