MVC Champions! No. 49 Drake Edges Wichita State For League Title, 4-3
DES MOINES, Iowa - With one swing of the racket the deed had been done as freshman Alen Salibasic's (Tuzla, Bosnia&Herzegovina) second-set tiebreaker victory at the No. 4 position set a tidal wave of emotions out as the 49th-rated Drake men's tennis team had accomplished its goal to win the Missouri Valley Conference regular season crown as the Bulldogs registered a come-from-behind 4-3 triumph past Wichita State on Saturday (April 21) at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
The title represented the fifth in the last six seasons, a mark that is tops among all Drake athletic squads over that span. The win also catapulted the Bulldogs into the top seed at the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship to be played next Friday through Sunday (April 27-29) in Omaha, Neb.
"I'm so proud of the way our guys battled today," Drake head coach Evan Austin commented. "It was great to see Jean (Erasmus) play probably his best match of the season so far and Alen (Salibasic) to clinch the regular season title for us as a freshman. We've got to get right back to work this week and get ourselves ready for what will be an extremely competitive MVC Tournament."
The doubles portion of the affair proved to be a fierce battle between the two sides with Drake claiming a victory at the top slot, before the Shockers took a win at No. 2.
The deciding tilt occurred on court No. 3, where Salibasic and senior Cesar Bracho (Luque, Paraguay) were on the verge of earning the triumph leading 7-6, before Wichita State's duo of Juan Estenssoro and Erick Reyes battled back to force the tiebreaker an eventually post a 9-8 (4) decision to record the doubles point.
Never one to back down from a challenge, the Bulldogs garnered dominating efforts from the top of the line-up in singles play to set the stage for their comeback.
Looking to stake his claim to MVC Player of the Year accolades at No. 1, junior Anis Ghorbel (Sfax, Tunisia) evened the affair at one downing Matheus Pereira, 6-2, 6-1.
Junior James McKie (Edinburgh, Scotland) put Drake ahead to stay dispatching David Cavalcanti on court No. 2, 7-6 (5), 6-0.
Junior Jean Erasmus (Windhoek, Namibia) stretched the Bulldogs' advantage to 3-1 after posting a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Guillermo Nicol at No. 4.
The Shockers inched closer with a victory at No. 3 before the climax of the match hit its crescendo with the efforts of Salibasic, one of the leading contenders for MVC Freshman of the Year honors.
After winning the first set by a 6-0 score, the second frame versus Reyes went down to the tiebreaker. Salibasic jumped to within one point of victory at 6-4, before two unanswered tallies by Reyes made the tiebreaker all square at six. Salibasic came up with two straight points to earn the triumph and send a jubilant group of Bulldogs towards Salibasic in celebration.
"I'm very happy that I could contribute to our winning the match by pulling out the second set, even though I was down in the tiebreaker," said Salibasic.
The Shockers posted a victory at the No. 6 position to close the scoring in the affair.
The Bulldogs were without the services of sophomore Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) and freshman Ben Mullis (Leicestershire, England) in singles. Goodman was held out as a precautionary measure after playing doubles, while Mullis was struck with the flu bug.
The Bulldogs open play at the State Farm MVC Championship on Saturday (April 28) against a still to be determined opponent.
NO. 49 DRAKE (22-2, 5-0 MVC) DEF. WICHITA STATE (15-5, 4-1 MVC), 4-3
APRIL 21, 2012 • ROGER KNAPP TENNIS CENTER
No. 1 Anis Ghorbel (DU) def. Matheus Pereira (WSU), 6-2, 6-1
No. 2 James McKie (DU) def. David Cavalcanti (WSU), 7-6 (5), 6-0
No. 3 Tomislav Gregurovic (WSU) def. Jonathan Hadash (DU), 3-6, 4-6
No. 4 Jean Erasmus (DU) def. Guillermo Nicol (WSU), 2-6, 6-2, 6-3
No. 5 Alen Salibasic (DU) def. Erick Reyes (WSU), 6-0, 7-6 (6)
No. 6 Juan Estenssoro (WSU) def. Cesar Bracho (DU), 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish: (1,2,4,3,5,6)
No. 1 Ghorbel/McKie (DU) def. Cavalcanti/Pereira (WSU), 8-5
No. 2 Gregurovic/Nicol (WSU) def. Erasmus/Robin Goodman (DU), 8-5
No. 3 Estenssoro/Reyes (WSU) def. Bracho/Salibasic (DU), 9-8 (4)
Order of Finish: (1,2,3)