No joy for women’s tennis at D-I Valpo

By Joe Katz

If you really do learn more from losing than from winning, women’s tennis may have just been taken to school.

The Maroons (0–1) kicked off their season with a 7–0 loss on the home courts of Valparaiso (1–0) Saturday. Though the squad recorded several respectable performances against the Division I squad, only the third-doubles pairing of fourth-year Annie Miller and first-year Preetha Rajamani was able to win their match with an 8–6 decision over fourth-year Jill Dierberg and first-year Kim Sajevic. Four of Chicago’s six starters are first-years.

“We wanted to see where we were before we started our Division III schedule, and get experience for our younger players.” head coach Marty Perry said. “They did well against a veteran team, all things considered.”

If a few bounces had gone the other way, Chicago might have been able to steal a team point. Crusader third-years Whitney Chada and Kate Evangelist barely got by the road tandem of first-years Anuja Parikh and Alice Williams 8–6 at second doubles, who had a break point to get even at seven all.

“There was no real turning point, but there were a few crucial points which we should have converted,” Parikh said. “Alice and I have only played two matches and have had few practice sessions together, and I think we’ve grown more comfortable with each other’s style. We played rather well. Our opponents seemed to have more experience than us.”

“ really played the best on the day. The intensity in the doubles matches was great. They played with a lot of confidence,” Perry said.

It wouldn’t have made a difference towards the end result, as Valpo was able to deliver the expected sweep of all six singles matches. A number of Maroons did respectably, with regionally 11th-ranked first-year Vindya Dayananda (6-2, 2-6, 10-5) at first singles and Miller (6-2, 2-6, 10-8) at sixth forcing third sets and regionally 17th-ranked third-year Ade Omodele-Lucien (6-0, 7-6) nearly matching them at second. But the Crusaders were just too powerful to be contained.

“We had strong showing at one and six, and we stuck to the game point at our other positions,” Perry said. “Some things were pointed out that we need to do better, on both an individual and a team basis.”

In other singles matches, Williams fell to Chada 6–4, 6–1 at the third spot, Parikh was put away 7-5, 6-3 by Evangelist at the fourth, and first-year Meredyth Richards was handled 6-1, 6-1 by Sajevic at fifth. The regionally 12th-ranked Dayananda and Omodele-Lucien combo fell to third-year Rachel Jannsen and first-year Jen Schwartz 8–4 at first doubles.

“The results don’t look good, but I know that everyone gave their opponents a hard time,” Parikh said. “Valpo had a good team, and we did put up a good fight, but this time they were meant to win. On another occasion I’m sure we would do a lot better, if not defeat them.”

While the bout with the Crusaders was the team’s first opportunity to compete in the new year, they won’t get another chance to strut their stuff for some time. The Central Region’s ninth-ranked squad will be focused on practice over the next few weeks as they look ahead to a tough road trip against Carnegie Mellon, Dension, and host Kenyon February 11-12. Carnegie is ranked 12th in Division III and Dension stands at 14th, while Kenyon is ranked 11th in the Central Region.