Chicago women's tennis knew they would have to take their play to another level to knock off 23rd-ranked Wheaton.
The match-up proved to be a tight battle, but in the end the Maroons (10-6) eeked out a 5-4 victory over the Thunder (13-3) at home Tuesday, skyrocketing the team's confidence to new heights as the UAA championships draw closer.
While first-year Michele Parad's 6-1, 6-3 win over Wheaton fourth-year Meredith Masoncup at second singles clinched the Chicago triumph, quality doubles play ultimately made the difference.
Third-year Annie Miller and first-year Cassie Kramer won 8-2 at second doubles, and third-year Katie Dulmage and fourth-year Christine Kim teamed up for the 8-4 win to take two of three doubles matches. The 17th-ranked pair of second-year Ade Omodele-Lucien and first-year Michele Parad were upset by Wheaton third-year Elizabeth Maclellan and second-year Karly Olson, ranked 19th.
The big victory was the sixth straight for the team and has them eyeing a regional ranking by postseason time.
"The women's win over Wheaton was a huge step forward for the program. Wheaton was ranked fifth in the Central region, one of the deepest regions in Division III college tennis," head coach Marty Perry said.
"We've played a pretty tough schedule and have had a number of tight matches that include six 5-4 decisions. The experience from those tight matches has helped us become a mentally tough team down the stretch, and we're going to do all we can to continue to pick up momentum as we head into the UAA tournament next weekend," he said.
The victory was the team's first win over a nationally ranked team all season. They now look to close out the regular season with three home wins, hosting McKendree and Lewis Saturday and Olivet Nazarene next Tuesday. This Friday's match against Benedictine was canceled.
On the men's side, Chicago (16-7) walked away with a 5-2 victory over Wheaton (6-5). The Maroons, ranked 10th in the region, overpowered the Thunder in singles, taking five of six. Wheaton had earlier won the doubles point by taking two of three matches.
Third-year Wisconsin transfer Ward Bortz, ranked third in the region, beat 16th ranked fourth-year Joe Williams 7-6, 6-2 to improve to 22-7 on the season. Bortz and first-year Sasha Deriy had earlier lost 8-5 in their doubles match against Williams and first-year Josh Williams.
The pair's record now stands at 15-5, leaving little cause for concern.
"Ward and Sasha have been playing with a lot of confidence over the past month and have really come together as a doubles team," Perry said. "With our competitive schedule, they usually get an opportunity to play a quality opponent at first doubles.
"Ward was an experienced doubles player before he arrived on campus, and his experience and guidence has helped Sasha develop into one of our top doubles competitors."
The Maroons dominated the bottom of the rotation. First-year Joseph Tchan, a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 winner at fourth singles, fourth-year Jacob Reckess, a 7-5, 6-3 victor at fifth, and first-year Bharath Sithian who came home with a 7-5, 6-2 win at sixth rounded out a balanced effort.
The men wrap up the regular season at home Tuesday against Olivet Nazarene before traveling to Boston for the UAA championships.