Young Talent Looks to Dominate Denison

A neutral site sets the stage for the No. 6 men’s and No. 15 women’s tennis squads to take on a ranked opponent this weekend. They both square off against Denison, where the men are ranked No. 35 and the women are No. 25.

By Gary Huang

This weekend, the University of Chicago men’s and women’s tennis teams travel to Indianapolis, IN for a dual meet with Denison University. The men head into the matchup after a strong performance at the Division III ITA Indoor National Tennis Championship, finishing in second place among a group of eight elite teams. The women’s tennis team is coming off of a convincing 9–0 rout of Kalamazoo College after starting off the season with three losses to Division 1 opponents.

At the ITA Nationals, the Maroons started off by defeating No. 8 Trinity University (Texas) 6–3 in the first round, giving them their first-ever team win at the event. They then went on to knock off No. 14 Case Western Reserve University with a solid 7–2 result, before advancing to the finals against UAA rival No. 5 Emory University. In the championship, the Eagles were able to pull out the victory and the trophy, but the young South Siders had solidified their reputation as a national championship contender. The team will surely look to continue building their confidence this weekend and trudge on in their campaign for the Division III Men’s Tennis National Championship.

“We are an extremely young team and it was the first time for any of us playing at the ITA Indoor Nationals. I thought our team did a great job in composing ourselves for every match and not let any outside noise affect us. I thought we played some great doubles this weekend and that positive energy that we brought continued into singles,” said fourth-year Gordon Zhang.

“We are going to continue to work hard both on and off the court. Every day we are improving as a team and we are extremely close to being the best team in the country. We have the players to be the best but I think it will take a few more tough matches to get there. Also, we are a better outdoors team and I believe more success will come to our team,” added Zhang.

Heading into the matches with UChicago, No. 35 Denison University (3–2) has three wins over Division III teams with the two losses coming from DI University of Toledo and DII University of Findlay. Denison suffered a 7–2 defeat from the University of Toledo, despite the doubles team of second-year Jack O’Koniewski and first-year Blake Burstein winning 6–4, and lost by the same score line to the University of Findlay. First-year Colin Bahin improved to 6–2 on the year now stands with a record of 3–1 at No. 5 singles.

The No. 15 Maroon women (2–2) will face No. 25 Denison University (3–1) in a matchup of closer ranked teams. Both teams are still struggling to find midseason form but are building momentum with the South Siders sweeping No. 38 Kalamazoo College 9–0 and the Big Red defeating Oberlin College 8–1. Three different players on the UChicago team recorded straight set wins, including first-year Rachel Kim, third-year Tiffany Chen, and fourth-year Stephanie Lee. Fourth-year Lucy Tang has also notably won two consecutive matches against DI opponents at No. 5 singles.

Denison University remains undefeated against nationally ranked opponents after beating No. 39 ranked Oberlin College. In that matchup, the team won five of six singles matches, while fourth-year Meg Chiumento, leading the team in singles victories at 8–2, and first-year Lauren Hawley notched their first victory as a doubles duo. Following her performances, Hawley was named the North Coast Athletic Conference Player of the week.

The University of Chicago Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams will drive down to Indianapolis, IN this Saturday, February 27, where they will both play at 3:30 p.m. (EST).