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Tennis takes on Drake, Louisiana-Lafayette

BY BLAKE DOWSON | FEBRUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team is set to take on Drake on Friday in a matchup of ranked teams.

The Hawkeyes are 7-1 and riding a five-game winning streak that landed them at No. 57 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s rankings.

“It means a lot to get into the rankings,” interim head coach Ross Wilson said. “It’s been a goal of ours all year. Now, we want to make sure we stay in the rankings and finish top 60. We have to get some more big wins, and the guys know they have an opportunity to do that this weekend.”

The newly ranked Hawkeyes will have their hands full with the Bulldogs, who are 10-3 on the year and are ranked No. 29.

“Drake has a majority of seniors on their team,” Wilson said. “Since Iowa State doesn’t have a program, Drake is our in-state rival. They’re established, and they’ve had great programs in the past.”

Drake has picked up wins against No. 38 Louisville, then-No. 52 Miami (Florida), No. 50 Dartmouth, and No. 27 North Carolina State.

With Drake being just a few hours away from Iowa City, assistant coach Ty Schaub said, it gives the Iowa players a chance to get familiar with the Drake players.

“We know a lot of the Drake guys,” Schaub said. “They’re really strong top to bottom. It’s another ranked matchup for us, which we’re excited about, and it’s another home match for us.”

Wilson and Schaub have both stated they have used Drake as a sort of measuring stick for their program.

“We sat down early on and said, ‘Every year we want to beat Drake,’ ” Wilson said. “We want to be the best school in the state.”

The Bulldogs have two players ranked in the top 55: junior Ben Lott ranked No. 34 and senior Alen Salibasic at No. 55.

With two ranked Bulldogs, it could possibly mean that junior Dom Patrick will have his first shot at a ranked opponent this year.

Wilson said that his young team has not quite gripped the rivalry with Drake yet, but they do pay attention to the Bulldogs, and they know how important the match will be for the team.

“[With both teams being ranked], it intensifies things a little bit,” Wilson said. “The guys are motivated, they know it’s a huge match. We’re going to have a lot of opportunities this year against top 30 teams, and this is the first one. We need to take advantage of it.”

Iowa will take on Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday in another matchup of ranked teams. Louisiana Lafayette comes in ranked No. 75.

“[Lafayette] is a mid-major that’s usually nationally ranked,” Wilson said. “They’re a really solid team, and they’ve played well.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns have been ranked in all but two weeks this spring.

The Hawks will have to earn their No. 57 ranking this weekend against Drake and Louisiana-Lafayette, but it would be difficult to bet against an Iowa team that is currently on something of a roll.

Action will start at 6 p.m. against Drake and at 2 p.m. against the Rajun’ Cajuns in the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.


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