Drake Kicks Off Spring Campaign With Trio Of Matches
The Drake men’s tennis team is set to commence its spring campaign this weekend as the Bulldogs will be challenged by a trio of matches. Drake opens its dual season hosting Northern Illinois on Friday (Jan. 17) at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center before traveling to Tulsa, Okla., to face No. 25 Tulsa and Southern Methodist University on Sunday (Jan. 19) and Monday (Jan. 20), respectively. Match time versus the Huskies is set for 4:00 p.m., while the battle of nationally-ranked opponents between the Bulldogs and Golden Hurricane will start at 12:00 p.m. Drake and the Mustangs are in action o Monday (Jan. 20) at 10:00 a.m.
DRAKE RECOGNIZED IN ITA PRESEASON RANKINGS
On the strength of its record-setting 2013 campaign, the Drake men’s tennis team earned its highest preseason ranking in program history, as the Bulldogs are 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.
Senior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) and junior Ravi Patel (London, England) 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. The tandem became the first Drake doubles team to win the ITA Central Regional doubles championship this fall before advancing to the quarterfinals of the ITA/United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Indoor Championships.
In singles, junior Matt Frost (Cambridge, England) made his debut in the poll at No. 123 nationally.
Also garnering regional recognition in singles was Goodman, Frost, junior Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Patel and sophomore Ben Lott (Newcastle, England), 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.
IN OUR LAST MEETINGS
Drake is renewing acquaintances with Northern Illinois, Tulsa and SMU for the first time since the 2012, 2004 and 2012 campaigns, respectively.
The Bulldogs extended their then winning streak to six to cap a perfect 5-0 homestand at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center following a 7-0 victory over Northern Illinois on Feb. 12, 2011.
Cesar Bracho pushed Drake’s lead to 2-0 downing Maximilian Phillips at the No. 6 singles position, 6-3, 6-0.
The Bulldogs climbed to within one point of victory, earning a 3-0 advantage, following James McKie’s 6-0, 6-2 triumph at the top slot.
It was then Goodman earning the clinching tally registering a 6-3, 6-0 win on court No. 4.
The Bulldogs suffered a 6-1 road setback at No. 49 Tulsa on Feb. 15, 2004 in their last encounter with the Golden Hurricane.
Drake earned victories in four of its six singles matches to complete a come-from-behind 4-3 triumph over SMU March 21, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.
The Mustangs stole the early momentum in the affair collecting wins at the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles positions to assume a 1-0 lead.
Jonathan Hadash got the Bulldogs into the scoring column first in singles winning at the No. 5 slot, 6-0, 6-1.
McKie gave Drake its first lead in the match besting Pablo Perez-Esnaola at No. 2, 7-5, 6-4.
SMU pushed the Bulldogs to the brink of defeat registering victories at the Nos. 3 and 4 holes to assume a 3-2 advantage.
Unwilling to let his teammates down, Anis Ghorbel squared the affair at three besting Gaston Cuadranti in three sets at the top slot, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
After dropping the initial set at No. 6 versus Robert Sajovich, Ben Mullis rallied to take the second frame, 7-5. In the final set, Mullis led 2-0 when Sajovich retired due to cramping to give Drake the deciding point in the affair.
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 (Lincoln, Neb.) 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 owns a 99-29 (.773) record over the last five seasons, including a 47-5 mark at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
• The Bulldogs sport a 70-10 (.875) ledger since the 2011 campaign.
• Drake currently owns a 32-match homecourt winning streak dating back to the 2010 campaign.
• Matt Frost led the Bulldogs with an 13-3 singles mark this fall, while Ben Lott, Alen Salibasic and freshman Euan McIntosh (Edinburgh, Scotland) added 11, eight and seven wins, respectively. In doubles, Robin Goodman and Ravi Patel each registered a team-best seven victories.
• Goodman, James McKie and Salibasic surpassed the combined 50-win plateau last season as the trio owned 65, 65 and 58 victories, respectively.
• Goodman directed Drake with a 65-15 combined singles/doubles ledger. He was followed by McKie (65-22), Salibasic (58-26), Erasmus (45-22), Ben Mullis (41-13), Anis Ghorbel (40-19), Ben Lott (38-13), Tesmer (26-9) and Ryan Drake (18-12).
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.
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 was broken 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 Soccer 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.
Drake travels to Waco, Texas, to compete in the ITA Kickoff Weekend on Jan. 25 and 26. The Bulldogs open the event battling No. 28 Auburn on Jan. 25 at 4:00 p.m. before playing either No. 8 Baylor or No. 46 Boise State on Jan. 26.