Maroons sweep Grinnell, DePauw to reach NCAA quarterfinals

For women’s tennis, the best season in program history just keeps on rolling, but things might get bumpy soon.

By Audrey Henkels

For women’s tennis, the best season in program history just keeps on rolling, but things might get bumpy soon.

The fourth-seeded Maroons dominated the competition in the opening rounds of NCAAs this weekend, and will play in the quarterfinals a week from today.

Following a first-round bye, Chicago took decisive 5–0 wins over Grinnell and host DePauw in the second and third rounds of the tournament, respectively.

Both matches were played “to decision”: after the the Maroons swept the three doubles matches, all six singles matches began at the same time, but only continued until Chicago had won two, thus assuring the overall victories.

Chicago (16–4) lost just two games in its three doubles victories in the Saturday Grinnell match. Second-year Chrissy Hu and first-year Kendra Higgins won 8–0 at first doubles, fourth-year Vindya Dayananda and first-year Jennifer Kung notched an 8–1 victory in the second slot, and first-years Tiffany Nguyen and Carmen VacaGuzman earned an 8–1 decision in third.

Higgins and Kung then prevailed at first and second singles, both winning their respective matches without dropping a single game.

Against DePauw on Sunday, the Maroons swept the three doubles matches with an 8–1 victory by Hu and Higgins at the top spot, an 8–3 win by Dayananda and Kung in second doubles, and an 8–5 decision by Nguyen and VacaGuzman in third.

Kung and VacaGuzman also notched straight-set victories at second and third singles.

Next up for the team is a match with Carnegie in Lawrenceville, GA, to be played next Tuesday. The sixth-seeded Tartans were runners-up at the UAA tournament two weeks ago.

Women’s tennis has become the fourth Chicago sport—joining women’s soccer (1996, 2003, 2005), men’s basketball (2001), and men’s soccer (1996)—to advance to the quarterfinal round in NCAA postseason play.

“It’s really exciting, especially since for most of us it’s our freshman year, that we’re going so far into the postseason,” said Kung. “We’re really confident we can do really well because our team is really strong and we haven’t let up and lost our intensity all season.”

Carnegie and Chicago have yet to play this season, but there is no question that the Tartans will be a far tougher challenge than either DePauw or Grinnell. In March, they scored a 6–3 win over the Emory team that bounced Chicago from the UAAs, and though they are seeded lower now, they spent most of the season ranked ahead of the Maroons.

In their first two NCAA matches, Carnegie beat Ithaca 5–0 and Johns Hopkins 5–2.

“They’re a good team, talented,” said head coach Marty Perry about Carnegie, “I’m confident, though, that we have the capability to beat them, but we have to show up, focus, and do what it takes.”

If the Maroons are successful against the Tartans they will advance to Wednesday’s semifinals, where they will play the winner of the match between top-seeded Amherst and Gustavus Adolphus. The finals will be played Thursday.

For three of the Maroons, their time in Georgia will extend through Sunday, regardless of the team’s performance as a whole. They will compete in the NCAA individual championships, which start the Friday after team finals, and are also played in Lawrenceville.

Higgins, whom the ITA recently named Central Region Rookie of the Year, will compete in both singles and doubles alongside partner Hu. Kung will also represent the Maroons in singles competition.