Doubles trouble hurts women’s tennis in pair of losses

By Kate Fratar

In a weekend when women’s tennis needed to fire on all cylinders, the Maroons ran into trouble getting and maintaining momentum when they needed it most against a pair of regional rivals.

Opening with a clash against 10th-ranked Denison (1–1) Friday and following up with a battle against regionally 11th-ranked Kenyon (2–0) Saturday, 19th-ranked Chicago (4–3) dropped both matches to remain just above .500 on the year and fell to 2–2 in D-III contests. The Maroons bowed down to Denison 7–2 before coming up short to Kenyon 5–4.

“Everybody played really well this weekend,” third-year Vindya Dayananda said. “It just so happened that they were playing better.”

So far this year the squad has been streaky in its doubles competition, putting up a team mark of 7–8 in pairs play before this weekend’s showdowns. The strength of the singles players has been enough this season to lift the Maroons over their opponents when doubles set them off to a slow start. This inconsistency followed the South Siders on their trip to Ohio.

Getting swept in doubles to kick off the road swing, Chicago lost ground to the Big Red that it couldn’t recover later. Denison continued to pick up speed as it claimed four of the six singles bouts to lock up the 7–2 win. Refusing to roll over to their opponents, Dayananda and first-year Chrissy Hu put up two of the toughest fights.

Hu fell behind first-year Kristin Cobb at third singles after the first set but launched a comeback for a 2–6, 7–6 (7–5), 1–0 (10–6), besting Cobb to give Chicago one of its two wins. Pulling off the upset preserved Hu’s unblemished record in solos play and put her at 6–0 for the season.

Squaring off at second singles, Dayananda forced second-year Marta Drane to go all three sets but couldn’t hold off a match point in the tiebreaker and dropped to Drane 7–6 (7–2), 4–6, 1–0 (10–5). The only other victory for the Maroons came from second-year Justine Kentla, who secured the first set 6–4 before having the match retired as other losses made a Chicago victory mathematically impossible.

Chicago had little time to put the loss behind itself as it took the court against Kenyon the next day. At first, it looked like the South Siders had made the necessary adjustments when they took wins in the top two doubles slots. Despite claiming the early advantage, the Maroons couldn’t close the door on the Ladies.

“We had to find new energy to get out there Saturday, and that was tough,” Dayananda said. “But we started the Kenyon match really excited.”

At the top of the lineup, Dayananda and second-year Marissa Lin took care of business. Lin breezed by fourth-year Paige MacDonald 6–3, 7–5 at first singles while Dayananda turned things around on fourth-year Meredith Brown at second for the 3–6, 6–2, 6–4 triumph.

The next four Maroons struggled to come up with the deciding match as the squad was dealt the 5–4 defeat. Hu got stung as she dropped her first match of the season with a 2–6, 7–6, 6–2 decision at third singles, and Kentla’s 2–6, 6–2, 6–3 loss at fourth put the pressure on second-year Jennifer Walters and first-year Cristina Simpetru to protect the slim lead at fifth and sixth.

With four courts available at Kenyon, both Walters and Simpetru had to wait, as tension built, for one to become available. When the time came, both fell in straight sets as the hosts completed the comeback.

“Everybody on the team plays an equal role in helping the team win,” Dayananda said. “It’s all about getting momentum going. It was just one of those days honestly.”

From here the South Siders catch a sneak peek at UAA rivals Wash U (1–0). The Bears are just behind the Maroons in both the national and regional rankings, sitting in the 21st spot for the division and 10th in the Central Region after ninth-placed Chicago.