SPORTS

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April 22, 2003

Men's tennis in uphill battle as conference playoffs approach

With the return of warmer, more pleasant weather and the resumption of the regular spring athletic schedule, the men's tennis team hoped to revitalize its tumultuous, sub-par season. Unfortunately, last week's good weather did not translate into quality wins.

The Maroons dropped two decisions against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Friday and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHT) on Sunday afternoon.

In its first home match of the season, Chicago fell to the Division II, SIU-Edwardsville 2-4. Despite the loss, second-year Jacob Reckess continued his strong play by winning both of his weekend singles matches, one of which was against SIU-Edwardsville's top singles player. Reckess won that match 6-4 and 7-5 in two hotly contested sets.

"Jacob had an excellent match against SIU. He played real well. It was a tough, exciting match," said Bill Simms, the Maroons' men's and women's tennis coach.

Simms noted that in the RHT loss there were several tight matches that could have gone either way. In the same loss, fourth-year Douglas York lost both sets, 6-4 and 6-4, to the second seeded singles player. The Maroons number one doubles team, Reckess and third-year Basil Alsikafi, lost a heartbreaking match 9-8.

In terms of talent, the Maroons matched up well with Rose-Hulman, as the close 3-4 score indicated. The men's singles players split their matches with RHT, 3-3 as Reckess, Jason Wu, and Bradley Sniderman all won their decisions.

Reflecting on the season thus far, Simms felt that the Maroons would have been better off with an earlier start to the season.

"We should have played more matches in February and March," Simms said. "Indoor matches would have helped control some of the weather problems we faced."

Simms also noted that the Maroons will play only nine matches this season. A typical opponent usually plays 20 matches a season.

Most of this season's matches were scheduled over a year ago by then-coach Natalie Butler, who was with the team for the past two seasons. Butler left at the end of the year to accept a position on the staff of the NCAA.

Simms himself was still unsure of his future with the University. "I don't know if I'll be back next year. But I will address the scheduling after the UAA conference playoffs are over," Simms said.

Despite the team's overall record of 1-5, Simms is still optimistic about Chicago's chances and refuses to rule out a potential playoff upset.

"The UAA has a new format. They don't seed from top to bottom. We would not be the number eight seed. They only seed the top four. The last couple of years, we would have had to play Emory and Washington [University in St. Louis] and had no chance," Simms said.