Sports Shorts 2/6/07: Men’s tennis splits season opener

By Kate Fratar

Starting off the season with freezing temperatures outside, men’s tennis hosted a pair of opponents indoors this weekend and walked away with an even record.

Opening the year against UI–Springfield (3–2), the Maroons (1–1) notched a 6–3 win over the Prairie Stars thanks to a sweep at doubles. Third-year Joseph Tchan and second-year Alex Winney secured a 8–6 decision at the top spot, and fourth-year Vivek Venkataraman teamed up with first-year Steve Saltarelli to nail down a 8–4 victory in second. At the bottom of the lineup, first-years Grant Brinker and Noah Schneider posed a killer combo, smoking their opponents in an 8–0 shutout.

In solo competition, Chicago split the matches with their visitors, grabbing wins at the three through five slots on the lineup. Playing at fourth, Tchan came out on top after struggling in the second set to post final line score of 6–2, 2–6, 8–6. Brinker and Schneider proved just as effective going it alone on the court, with both newcomers making quick work of their opponents with 6–0, 6–0 blankings. At the top of the lineup, fellow rookie Saltarelli got the start and fell 7–5, 6–4, while Venkataraman suffered a 6–2, 6–3 loss at second.

Returning to action on Saturday, the Maroons couldn’t find the right swing and dropped 7–0 to DI squad UW–Green Bay (1–1). The squad struggled to put up a strong fight in singles battles, losing all but one of the showdowns in straight sets. Second-year Bharath Sithian managed to hold off their opponents the longest but ultimately couldn’t strike the final blow. After pushing the match to the deciding set, Sithian came up short, 6–3, 6–7(6), (10–6).

The sole bright spot in the South Siders clash with Green Bay came at second doubles where Schneider and Brinker bested second-years Eric Plaushines and Matt Keesey 8–4.

After their opening weekend the South Siders are still settling some of the preseason’s lingering questions about the lineup. While Saltarelli got back-to-back starts at first singles, the rest of the roster was juggled around as new and returning players were tested in different spots. The squad will have some more chances to iron out the wrinkles when they take on Kenyon and Denison this weekend.