Oberlin, Wheaton take on No. 17 home turf

The men’s tennis team takes on their first and only unranked opponents this weekend as they face off against Oberlin and Wheaton.

By Helen Petersen

After a weekend of battling it out with some of the nation’s top-ranked squads, the Maroons will now face a pair of regional rivals in Wheaton and Oberlin, this time at Tennis XS, the team’s home indoor courts in Hyde Park.

Chicago went 2–1 last weekend against three top-30 teams, including a win over No. 12 Kenyon. It was the first time Chicago has defeated Kenyon since 1986. Over the weekend, the No. 1 singles player in the nation, first-year Nick Chua, suffered his first DIII loss of the season against Case Western.

The doubles duo of second-year Max Hawkins and first-year Luke Tsai went undefeated over the weekend. Tsai wrapped this up by also going undefeated in singles play.

“We’ll be looking to accomplish exactly what we were looking to accomplish last weekend, which will be to win every match at every spot and improve on our weaknesses. I think a big takeaway from last weekend was we have many areas in which we have to improve but at the same time we have the ability to beat the teams we’re going to play, especially playing with the energy that we’ve been playing with,” Hawkins said.

This weekend’s matches will be the first time No. 17 Chicago has not found itself on the road. This weekend also represents the first DIII opponents the team will face that are not nationally ranked.

The South Siders will face off against Oberlin on Saturday to kick off weekend play. Their opponent is 0–2 in the winter season, having dropped matches to Wabash and Tiffin by 4–5 and 2–7, respectively. The Yeomen have yet to find their footing with their starting lineup as it has yet to be consistent from one competition to another.

Later on Saturday, Chicago will face Wheaton in its second match of the day. The Thunder will be facing off against Oberlin earlier on Saturday. The match is only the second for the Thunder in the winter season. Wheaton opened its season with a close win over UW–Eau Claire, 5–4. Against UW–Eau Claire, Wheaton swept the doubles competition, winning only one singles match on the day.

The match also has the last DIII opponent Chicago will face in February. The team will go on to compete against the DI University of Illinois at Chicago next weekend.

The squad, despite the success it has experienced since the beginning of the regular season, is still very aware that it has places to improve and that it can’t afford to get comfortable.

“Especially with losing to Case, I think it has elevated our focus, and though on paper Wheaton and Oberlin may be weaker teams, our attitudes towards them and every other team will be the same: to win at every spot, play with an unwavering determination, and thus show everyone what we’re made of. Put the fear of Chicago into them, so to speak,” Hawkins said.

The match against Oberlin begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, followed closely by a match against Wheaton beginning at 6 p.m. Both events will take place at Tennis XS in Hyde Park.