Women?s tennis shows signs of improvement

By Kelly Finn

After a victory at Rose Hulman and a narrow loss at home to Wheaton, the women?s tennis team is off to a solid start. With the UAA conference championships just over a week away, excitement among the players is growing as they have started to meet the higher standards that coach Bill Simms set at the season?s beginning.

Last Sunday in Terre Haute, Indiana, the Maroons were able to topple Rose Hulman 6?3 in the scorching 80-degree heat. The first four singles players won in two sets, and the first and third doubles teams pulled off vital wins as well. The first team of first-years Annie Miller and Suzy Xie fought through an intense match, bringing it to a tiebreaker and eventually prevailing. After suffering a tough three-set loss at sixth singles, second-year Jessica Ansehl helped clinch Chicago?s victory with her solid 8?2 doubles win with fourth-year May Tan. ?The doubles win was crucial. I was really impressed by my teammates? efforts,? Ansehl said. ?We played with a lot of determination to win. The Rose Hulman match boosted our confidence for UAA championships next week.?

The Maroons faced their most difficult competition of the year on Tuesday in their first home match of the season. Despite a wrenchingly close final score, Chicago could not sneak by with a win against Wheaton College, barely falling by a score of 5?4. Highlights included another close match from Miller and Xie with Wheaton?s Jorgensen and Waybright (9?8), as well as a clenching thriller from first-year Liz Saydah at third singles, who won 6?4 in the first set and fought valiantly to hold onto a 7?6 victory in the second. Saydah and Tan then made a remarkable comeback at second doubles by overcoming a 1?5 deficit but still lost the match 7?9. Miller, despite an impressive game and a tight first set, went down in the second set (6?7, 1?6), but Xie won at second singles 7?6 and 6?2, and first-year Janae Winner came up with a two-set victory at sixth singles.

While Simms had been hoping for a victory, he was generally pleased with the players? performances. ?This match could have gone either way,? Simms said.

Xie, who has had her share of tiebreakers in the past few matches, sees an advantage the Maroons have in competition. ?I?ve noticed that when sets come down to tiebreaks, as a team, we usually handle the pressure and come out on top,? Xie said. ?Our ability to benefit from tiebreaks will help us succeed in any tight matches we may encounter at the UAAs.?

?This season, even though it was very brief, has helped us grow as a team?we all get along well and we play well together,? said second-year Katie Dulmage. ?I expect us to finish at UAA championships a lot better than we have in previous years because we are such a young team with such a deep and varied line-up.?

Wednesday?s meet against Olivet Nazarene University, in Bourbonnais, Illinois, was cancelled due to inclement weather, not an uncommon occurrence for a team that had already postponed two of its meets. This Saturday will feature a home match against the Northwestern club team for the last regular match of the shortened spring season.

Next week the Maroons will put in a few days of intense practice in hopes of being well-prepared for the upcoming UAA championship meet at Washington University in St. Louis. Simms expects the team to finish in the top half of the conference, even with the its relative lack of playing opportunities. ?I wish we got in some more matches before UAAs because with such a young team, every match brings more experience,? Simms said.