Sport Shorts 4/17/07: Men’s tennis gets fed to Bears in pre-tournament UAA test

By Tim Murphy

In its first match of the year against a UAA contender, men’s tennis saw just how far it still has to go.

Traveling to St. Louis for a pair of regional matches, the 28th-ranked Maroons (7–7) fell 7–2 to 10th-ranked Wash U (13–3) Sunday, a day after taking down Coe (10–10) 6–3. For Chicago, Sunday’s matinee in a hostile setting gave the young squad its first real glimpse of the top-flight competition they’ll face at the UAAs April 26–27 in Cleveland. First-year Steve Saltarelli (8–8) led the way for the squad over the weekend, notching a pair of victories for the Maroons over the weekend at third singles.

Taking control of Saturday’s date early, the South Siders made quick work of the Kohawks in the doubles competition with a clean sweep. At first, Saltarelli teamed up with fourth-year Vivek Venkataraman (9–7) for an 8–5 win over fourth-year Chad Evans and second-year Sam Zerbib, while the roommate duo of Garrett Brinker and Noah Schneider (12–2) cruised to an 8–3 decision at second and Bharath Sithian and Joseph Tchan (2–1) earned an 8–5 win at the third spot.

The singles competition was more balanced, with both teams notching three wins apiece. After dropping the first set, Brinker (9–7) rallied for a spirited 3–6, 6–0, 6–2 win over Evans at second, while Saltarelli dug deep for a hard-fought two-set victory over second-year T.J. Leicht, 7–6, 6–4 at third. Schneider (10–6) served up the squad’s final win, coming from behind to outlast first-year Greg Janssen 5–7, 6–1, 1–0 (10–6).

While the Maroons did well to get past the always-tough brawlers from Iowa, Sunday’s contest proved too much for the squad to handle. The host Bears took five of the six singles matches and two of three at doubles in what Chicago will hope is not a harbinger of things to come. Despite the losing effort, Saltarelli shined once again, earning the squad’s lone victory with a 6–4, 6–1 win over second-year Chris Hoeland at third. Brinker and Schneider, the most consistent tandem for the South Siders thus far this spring, chipped in with a narrow 9–7 victory at second doubles

With the weekend results now behind them, the Maroons will look ahead to their next two matches as they try to fine-tune their games before the UAA tournament. The squad will play their home finale against DuPage (1–3) Saturday at Stagg before traveling to Wheaton (9–7) Tuesday for the regular season finale.