Winning a championship in sports is difficult.
Defending that championship can be even tougher.
“We know that most teams will be gunning for us, but that’s fun,” said Drury senior Isabella Melena.
It’s business as usual for the Drury tennis programs.
“We’re the alpha dog kind of in our division and it’s been that way for a while,” said Drury junior Van Hopkins.
It’s been more than a while.
Drury’s run of success in the Great Lakes Valley Conference West division is staggering.
The men’s program is a perfect 83-0 in regular season match play since joining the conference 14 years ago.
“Wanting to keep that tradition going and wanting to be a part of that. Someday you can look back and say I was on the teams that did this, this and this,” Hopkins said.
The women’s program is 88-two in that same 14-year stretch.
“It’s something that I would definitely say we’re aware of but not scared of.”
That confidence has carried over to the conference tournament.
The Panthers teams have won 15 tournament titles in 28 combined seasons.
“Whenever you get to tournament time, you basically flush the rest of your season down the toilet. What you’ve done up until that point is wonderful, but you’re back to zero-zero.”
A zero is what you would usually find in the Panthers loss column.
Despite the confidence, they recognize the pressure that comes with it.
“It was a lot of work way before us, so the last thing we want to do is tarnish it in any way,” Hopkins said.
And so they direct their focus elsewhere.
“[It’s] kind of an unspoken detail within the program. Everybody is aware of the streak and aware that we tend to handle business in the GLVC West, but it’s not something on a day to day basis we wake up or we talk about.”
There’s no reason to start now.
The current strategy has worked just fine.