Fifteenth-ranked Chicago opens post-season play today, taking on NYU (6—4) at 1:30 p.m. in the first round of the UAA Tournament.
Hosted by Brandeis (9—6) in Waltham, MA, the tournament boasts an especially deep lineup, with five of the eight competitors listed among the NCAA’s top 30 teams. As the second seed, the Maroons (14—3) avoid the cream of the crop, but the Violets come into the contest off of a five-match winning streak.
“We know we are the favorites against NYU, but we also know that they have no pressure on themselves and will come out swinging,” second-year doubles player Harrison Abrams said.
The Maroons might be especially wary of the first round given their performance last year. Last year’s team, also ranked 15th, fell to unranked Brandeis in the first round and had to settle for fifth place— a position the team refuses to settle for this year.
“The UAA is strong, but we’re not thinking in terms of what result we’d be content with,” fourth-year captain Will Zhang said. “We’re the second seed and winning the tournament is the goal.”
If the men can avoid another upset and progress from the first round, they will likely play fifth-ranked and third-seeded Wash U. Though their NCAA ranking pales next to the Bears’, the Maroons’ victory in St. Louis April 2 has given them the higher UAA seed and plenty of confidence heading into the potential semifinal matchup.
“Beating Wash U again will be a challenge for sure,” Zhang said. “They’ll be more than ready to come after us this time around, but I’m fully certain that if we play solid doubles and keep our intensity in singles, we can beat them again. We have three great doubles teams, and the depth of our singles lineup allows us very good looks to win at every position.”
Assuming the Maroons pull out another victory, they will advance to the finals, where they are almost guaranteed to meet the first seed, third-ranked Emory. The Eagles comprehensively defeated the Maroons back in March, sweeping the doubles and first through third singles on the way to a 7—2 victory.
“Of course Emory is expected to win it all this weekend, and they have beaten us before so we know what we are up against,” Abrams said. “But with our recent win over Wash U, I think we have a newfound confidence and firepower to take out any team. We will go into every match, against any team this weekend, and know that we can beat them if we play well.”