Tennis Prepared for Tournament Test

The Women’s Tennis Team enters the NCAA Tournament with a top 10 ranking and a championship in its sights.

By Miranda Burt

The University of Chicago women’s tennis team has again made an appearance in the NCAA postseason, receiving one of the tournament’s nine pool C at-large bids to continue their impressive streak of nine straight tournament appearances. The South Siders (16–4) received a first-round bye and will host a regional that includes seven other teams; Coe College (18–9), Augustana College (24–6), Gustavus Adolphus College (19–7), St. Norbert College (23–11), Kenyon College (11–9), and Franciscan University (14–6).

While the Maroons did receive an at-large bid, they are one of the tournament’s top-ranked teams and enter with high expectations. They are currently ranked No. 9 in NCAA Division III, coming off a second-place UAA finish where they narrowly lost a highly competitive contest against top-ranked Emory (5–4). The South Siders have been to the NCAA quarterfinals six times in the program’s history, and have made one finals appearance. 

Second-year Adrienne Travis commented on the team’s recent momentum, saying, “Coming off of UAAs, I feel extremely confident in our team’s ability to fight for every last point. At UAAs we had one of the closest matches with Emory that we have had in a while, and we plan on channeling that same energy going into NCAAs.”

First-year contributor Laura Gutierrez agreed, saying, “I was really proud of the energy our team brought to the courts, as well as the level of competitiveness that helped us finish as runner-up. [Singles No. 1 Ariana Iranpour] was incredible, and I think her hard-fought match and overall grit really set the tone for NCAAs coming up.”

The Maroons will face the winner of Coe College versus Augustana College, and then their fate will be determined by the rest of the seven-team regional. The Coe Kohawks are making their sixth straight tournament appearance. The Kohawks have played UAA opponent Washington University in St. Louis, losing handily (8–1), while the Maroons beat the Bears 8–1 and 5–4. The Augustana Vikings are making their second NCAA appearance in three years. The Maroons crushed the Vikings back in April, winning 8–1. 

Gutierrez was excited for regionals, saying, “As far as regionals go, we just have to keep pushing. We’ve pushed each other all season, and personally that gives me a lot of confidence in my playing and fitness levels going into the tournament. We just have to take it one match at a time.”

Travis added on, saying, “I think a huge factor that will contribute to our success in the NCAA tournament will be mental toughness on the court, i.e. staying positive no matter what the score is or how we are playing, not giving up until the last point is over, supporting one another while playing, etcetera. We have done a really good job with this as the season has progressed and I'm excited for it to really blossom at NCAAs. Having spent a year already competing in NCAAs and making it to elite eight last year is definitely a confidence booster. I think we have improved skill-wise as a team this year and I have high expectations for how far we make it in the tournament and how we compete against top teams.”

The Maroons will play at home May 12–14, looking to continue their recent NCAA tournament success.