Tennis teams dominate as women claim Midwest Invitational

Women’s tennis beats top-25 ranked competition to win the Midwest Invite.

By Audrey Henkels

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Both men’s and women’s tennis were victorious this weekend. The men defeated Grinnell College in dual match play while the Chicago women came out on top in the Midwest Invitational.

The men’s team destroyed Grinnell College 8-1 at Saturday’s home tournament.

Enjoying the warm weather, students came out to support the Maroons (10–5) and watch them as they swept the three doubles matches and took five of six in singles.

Chicago saw wins in doubles from fourth-years Garrett Brinker and Steve Saltarelli in first doubles, second-years Troy Brinker and Jan Stefanski in second doubles, and third-year Kunal Pawa and first-year Harrison Abrams in third doubles.

Brinker and Stefanski notched their eighth consecutive victory, defeating their opponents 8–4, and improved to 12–2 on the season.

“I thought that Steve and I played really well on Saturday,” Brinker said of their 8–6 win. “It was a solid match that will hopefully give us a lot of confidence going into UAAs in a couple weeks.

“We were actually down from the beginning, getting broken in the first game to start the match. In an eight-game pro set, it’s difficult to get down early and try to come back, especially against a team that had very solid serves,” Brinker continued. “But we were able to grind the match out until at 5–5 we broke back. From there, the match was ours.”

In addition to their ability to keep their heads in the game and continue to work to turn the match around, the senior duo was also able to alter the type of strokes they were hitting.

“I think our half-volleys really contributed to the comeback,” Garrett Brinker added. “[Steve and I have] been working on trying to hit them more often, as opposed to stepping in and hitting a volley.”

Chicago’s singles wins included Stefanski in second singles, Troy Brinker in third singles, second-year Johnathan Alexander in fourth singles, Saltarelli in fifth singles, and Pawa in sixth singles.

Brinker’s decisive 6–1, 6–0 victory was his sixth in a row and 12th of 15 matches this year.

After starting the match up 3–0, “we had the momentum and were able to get the 8–1 stomp,” Brinker explained. “We’ve really been working a lot on winning the doubles point and using that momentum to help us in singles.”

Meanwhile, the third-ranked women’s team defeated three top-25 opponents en route to capturing the championship at the Midwest Invitational Friday and Saturday.

After opening the tournament with a 9–0 victory over 26th-ranked Coe College, the Maroons edged ninth-ranked Gustavus Adolphus College 5–4 in Friday’s semifinal.

Chicago took two of three in doubles play, with victories from third-year Chrissy Hu and second-year Kendra Higgins in first doubles, and second-year Jennifer Kung and first-year Linden Li in second doubles.

Higgins, Kung, and Li won in first, second, and fourth singles, respectively, to move the Maroons past the Gussies and into Saturday’s title match.

In Saturday’s championship event, Chicago (14–3) won four of six singles matches and the only completed doubles match as they defeated sixth-ranked Denison University 5–2.

Higgins won her 16th consecutive match and improved to 25–1 on the season with a three-set win in first singles. Second-year Carmen Vaca Guzman, Li, and Hu notched respective straight set decisions at third, fourth, and fifth, respectively. Higgins and Hu won 8–3 in first doubles for their eighth win in a row and 19th in 24 contests this year.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will face Wheaton College in dual match play this Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.