SPORTS

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May 6, 2003

Men's tennis falls flat in UAA playoffs with last-place finish

The University of Chicago men's tennis team finished its season early when it was quickly eliminated from the UAA conference playoffs two weekends ago. With the UAA elimination and a disappointing 2-8 final record, the Maroons cannot make the national Division III playoffs and are left wondering just what went wrong. Losing all three of its playoff matches, the team finished the season eighth out of eight teams.

The Maroons entered the UAA tournament at 2-5, hopeful that they would be matched against a lower seeded opponent, which would have improved their chances of advancing to another round. The team fortunately did not draw perennial powerhouses Washington University and Emory University in the first round but were instead matched with the slightly more human Brandeis University. Yet, despite its lucky draw, Chicago still failed to make anything happen.

The Maroons dropped their opening match against Brandeis, 1-4. Out of the five singles matches played, only fourth-year Douglas York, the number two singles player, defeated his opponent 6-3, 6-1.

Following the Brandeis match, the Maroons played a consolation match against Carnegie Mellon University but continued the struggle mightily, losing all seven matches.

More notably, second-year Jacob Reckess, the men's number one singles and doubles player, did not play due to an injury. As a result, all the remaining Chicago singles players were moved up one place in the rankings and were likely mismatched against superior opponents. York replaced Reckess in the doubles slot alongside third-year Basil Alsikafi.

In their seventh-place match, the Maroons did not fare any better against New York University, again losing 0-7.

On Tuesday, April 22, the Maroons completed their regular season with a quality win against Lake Forest College, 5-2. Reckess continued his strong play, posting 6-0 and 6-1 wins over his opponent. Alsikafi and fourth-year Jason Wu also dominated, winning 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3, 6-0, respectively.

The Maroons singles players edged out Lake Forest 4-2, with a close win from first-year Bradley Sniderman, who defeated the number five singles player, 6-2, 6-7, and 1-0 (8). The Maroons doubles also fared well. Alsikafi/Reckess, the number one doubles team, won their match 8-3. Sniderman/Wu likewise defeated Lake Forest's number two doubles 8-3.

Finishing the season on a strong note was something that Simms stressed the team needed in preparation for the UAA playoffs. Morale and confidence was low following three consecutive losses prior to their win against Lake Forest.

Overall, the season had been a disappointing, uphill struggle, both with more experienced opponents and inclement weather. Throughout the season, players and coaches alike have wondered if the team's record could have turned out better had they actually played the cancelled matches. According to interim head coach Bill Simms, such experience is invaluable for post-season success. Because of former coach Nathalie Butler's early departure last season, the Maroons were left with no one to properly schedule this season's matches. Team members were also peppered with injuries, with second-year Andrew McKay and Reckess sitting out portions of the season.

The University has yet to determine if Simms will return next year. Recently, the men's tennis players met with the University's athletic director, Tom Weingartner, to discuss Simm's future.

Although the University will continue with its national search for a coach in the off-season, first-year Bradley Sniderman said that the team would be happy to see Simms return.

"We want him back. We don't know [the University's plans]. [Simms] wouldn't say for sure if he would come back. But everyone likes him, and we would like to have Coach Simms here next season," Sniderman said.

Next season, the Maroons will have a new look, with the departure of four fourth-years: York, Derrick Almassy, Jason Wu, and Vivek Taparia.