Fourpeat: South Siders capture Midwest Invitational title, move to 13–4

The Maroons won all four of their matches en route to their fourth consecutive Midwest Invite title.

By Shayan Karbassi

The Maroons had a dominating performance this weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, winning all four of their matches and sweeping the Midwest Invitational. The sixth-ranked Maroons improved to 11–1 against DIII opponents and 13–4 overall.

En route to its fourth consecutive Midwest Invite title, the team defeated Luther College, Gustavus Adolphus College, Washington University in St. Louis, and DePauw University.

“I am very proud of each and every one of my teammates. We’ve grown a lot throughout the year, and I feel like this tournament turned our hard work into results. It was nothing surprising, it is just a matter of execution, and this weekend every player executed their part,” third-year Linden Li said.

Fourth-year Jennifer Kung, a co-captain, thought that the team played well overall at the invite.

“I thought we did a good job of finding ways to win, even when we weren’t playing our best or things weren’t going our way,” Kung said. “Being able to compete well under those circumstances will be important during our matches later on at UAAs and NCAAs.”

On Friday, the ladies faced off against Luther College and began their weekend with a 9–0 victory. Friday evening the #20 women from Gustavus Adolphus were subject to the same treatment, as the Chicago women swept them 9–0.

The women knew that Saturday would be crucial for their success and as a gauge of their abilities, since they would play Wash U and DePauw.

Chicago began Saturday with another impressive performance, defeating #13 Wash U 5–0. Kung and first-year Kelsey McGillis both won their singles matches in two sets: 6–1, 6–2 and 6–1, 6–3, respectively. Fourth-years Kendra Higgins and Carmen Vaca Guzman led the way in doubles play, defeating Wash U 8–4. Their win was followed by victories from two other Chicago doubles pairs.

Saturday evening the South Siders faced the 10th-ranked DePauw Tigers for the third time this year. The Maroons had defeated the Tigers in their first encounter this year but lost to them in the second, making this an important match between the two schools. The Maroons avenged their previous loss to the Tigers with a 5–2 victory on Saturday.

Vaca Guzman led the way for the Maroons, winning in two sets: 6–1, 6–3. Li followed suit. McGillis fell to Caroline Emhardt of DePauw in two sets, marking the first loss for Chicago all weekend. But Tang made sure the team finished singles play strong with a 6–4, 6–1 victory over DePauw’s Julie Wittwer. In doubles play, Higgins and Vaca Guzman emulated their earlier successes, defeating the Tigers 8–5, and Kung and Li were almost flawless as they cruised to victory 8–1.

Coming off of a successful weekend, the Maroons will continue to work hard as they finish their season.

“Now we will be working more than ever on our fitness, while sustaining our focus on doubles play. Every point counts, every point matters, and every point is one step closer to the big prize: the national championship,” Li said.

“We did well this weekend, but we don’t want to lose focus. We’ll face much tougher competition at UAAs and NCAAs. We need to remain dedicated to working hard and putting in the time and effort needed to prepare for those tournaments,” Kung said. “UAAs will be really tough this year since Emory and Carnegie both have very strong teams, but I believe that if we play to our potential and keep working hard, we are capable of recapturing the UAA title this year. For now, we’re just focusing on preparing for UAAs and we don’t want to look too far ahead. However, at NCAA’s, we’ll be looking to improve on our performances over the last three years and hopefully win the national title.”

On Wednesday, Chicago travels to Wheaton College for dual matches as it looks to continue its dominance heading into the UAA and NCAA tournaments.