Youth serves as women’s tennis sacks Carthage

By Ben Jervis

This time around, women’s tennis means business.

Heading into competition against one of the fiercest squads in the region, the underdog Maroons (4–3, ninth regionally) manhandled 28th-ranked Carthage (8–5, seventh regionally) for a 7–2 victory Saturday at Evergreen. Playing their first home meet of the season, the determined squad notched five singles wins and two doubles victories to deal the Red their second straight loss.

Chicago has now defeated three nationally ranked opponents in two weekends, improving its overall record against top-30 teams to 3–2 so far this spring.

“I feel pretty good about where we’re going,” head coach Marty Perry said. “We’re definitely better than last year, and are hungry for wins.”

Leading off a number of impressive performances by the Maroons, first-year Vindya Dayananda (17–11, ranked eleventh regionally) knocked off ninth-ranked Carthage third-year Amanda Sta Romana in two sets 6–4, 6–2 at first singles. Down 4–1 in the first set, Dayananda won five straight for a comeback win.

The freshman phenom from Kathmandu excelled on the court from the moment she joined the team last fall.

“I feel that every player has something to contribute to the team, which is what is making us do so well,” Dayananda said. “I’m just playing my part in that.”

Three other Chicago first-years joined Dayananda in adding notches to their belts, with Anuja Parikh easily getting by third-year Kristin Minkowski 6–3, 6–2 at third, Alice Williams pounding first-year Taylor Gustafson 6-4, 6–3 at fourth, and Jackie Colvin whipping second-year Brooke Braastad 6–2, 6–0 at sixth.

Annie Miller was the sole fourth-year starter for the Maroons against Carthage, and she showed what veterans are capable of in an easy 6–1, 6–1 decision over second-year Erin Powers. Miller started her collegiate career in the first spot.

“Annie playing five is indicative of our improvement,” Perry said.

“We have five excellent freshman on the team and each new win gives us additional confidence,” Miller said. “I think this team is in many ways stronger than last year’s partly because we have started out the season on a high note and have such enthusiasm going forward.”

Third-year Ade Omodele-Lucien took the Maroons’ only loss in singles play, falling 2–6, 6–2, 6–4 to Lady Red’s third-year Elizca Buys.

In doubles competition, Miller and first-year Preetha Rajamani were dominant in an 8–2 win over Braastad and Powers at the third spot, while Parikh and Williams came together to put the hurt on Gustafson and Minkowski 8–5 at second. The first pairing of Dayananda and Omodele-Lucien took the only loss, falling 8–4 to Buys and Sta Romana.

The past month has demonstrated just how far the Maroons have come since last season. While the squad lost two meets at Denison February 11-12, they were playing without their versatile number-two starter Omodele-Lucien. Since then, it’s been easy street for this talented young team.

The Maroons hope to extend their winning streak to six as they prepare to take on Calvin College Friday at Evergreen and trek to Elkhorn, WI for a bout with UW–Whitewater in Sunday action. The team will then take a two-week layoff from competition before heading off on their spring break trip to Hilton Head, SC. Chicago will take on Washburn, Hope, Southwestern, Carleton, and Middlebury over a four-day stretch. The trip should provide valuable experience as the squad continues to charge toward the UAA Championships in Atlanta April 21-3 and a possible national tournament bid.

“I think we’re definitely headed to NCAAs,” Dayananda said.