Warhawks ride sixth singles tiebreakers to win over men’s tennis

By Kate Fratar

After coming close to breaking out the broomsticks last weekend, men’s tennis let another one slip through the cracks at the very last minute.

The 25th-ranked Maroons (5–2) fell 4–3 to visiting UW-Whitewater (8–2) Saturday after a 2–1 effort last week, with a 1–1 mark against nationally ranked teams. 21st-ranked fourth-year Ward Bortz gave a strong outing for the Maroons, winning his singles match and pairing up with first-year Alex Winney for the team’s only doubles victory, raising the duo’s season mark together to 4–1.

Both sides showed their grit, gutting out tough wins the entire match. The Warhawks continued their roll from a 6–1 rout of Augustana College earlier in the day, with first-year Alex Lowe and fourth-year Jordan Shilts taking the first doubles showdown from second-year Joseph Tchan and second-year Sasha Deriy 8–4. Bortz and Winney pulled out an 8–5 victory over fourth-year Matt Griffths and third-year Bill Stranberg, but Whitewater third-year Steve Klaas and first-year Ian Hintz got the best of second-year Bharath Sithian and third-year Vivek Venkataramen, shutting down the tandem 8–5 and taking the pairs point.

While they have struggled in doubles so far this season, the Maroons have usually managed to get it done in singles matches. It looked like the trend would continue as Bortz avenged last season’s to 19th-regionally-ranked Shilts 6–3, 6–2 at first singles, improving his record to 8–3 on the season.

“Ward’s fired up and playing hard,” head coach Marty Perry said.

Despite Bortz’s efforts, the Maroons and Warhawks remained in a deadlock throughout the match. Deriy steamrolled Lowe 6–0 in the first set but then lost his hold on the match, dropping the next two 6–1, 6–4. Tchan couldn’t build off his strong 3–0 singles performance from last weekend against Carnegie Mellon, Kenyon, and Denison, dropping his match against Klass 6–4, 7–5.

“We were in a position to put it away early, but you’ve got to give Whitewater credit,” Perry said. “They came back and played better collectively than we did.”

Keeping Chicago in the match were Venkataraman, defeating Griffths 6–3, 6–3 in the third match and Sithian, beating out Stranberg in the fifth singles 6–4, 6–0.

Winney was the last man standing on the courts in his face off against second-year Johnny Reed. He stayed cool under the pressure of playing with the team’s match on the line, fighting off several match points. Winney and Reed traded breaks, and Reed eventually came out on top, taking both sets 7–6.

“He gave us everything he had and kept us in the match as longs as he could,” Perry said.

The Maroons host 20th-ranked Carthage (6–1) this Saturday before a stretch of seven meets on the road.