SPORTS

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March 7, 2006

Women’s tennis keeps streak alive, rolls to weekend sweep

Four weeks ago, women’s tennis was struggling to make a name for itself. Now, with a number of quality wins under its belt, the determined team is cruising ahead at full speed.

Riding a four-game win streak going into the weekend’s contests, the Maroons (6–3), ranked ninth in the Central region, crushed two regional opponents over the weekend, defeating Calvin (-0–3) 8–1 at Bally’s Friday and following that up with a 9-–0 clean sweep of 14th-regionally ranked UW–Whitewater (11–5) Sunday in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

“Momentum is very high,” first-year Preetha Rajamani said.

Notching wins in five of six matches, Chicago took the singles from Calvin with flying colors. First-year Vindya Dayananda posted a 6–3, 6–0 decision over fourth-year Amy Zeilstra at first singles. Dayananda, ranked 11th in the region, has established herself as one of the most promising young Maroons to set foot on the court in years.

“It’s very contagious to see her and how she fights on the court,” fourth-year Katie Dulmage said. “She’s always positive. It’s good for the girls to see that.”

Dayandana’s classmates Anuja Parikh and Preetha Rajamani picked up wins as well. At third, Parikh beat second-year Emily Oosterhouse 6-–2, 6–2, while Rajamani handled third-year Kari Lipinski 6–2, 6–0 at fourth.

Several veteran Maroons played their part as well, doing their best to match the young talent that has boosted Chicago this season. At fifth singles, fourth-year Annie Miller posted a 6–0, 6–1 decision over third-year Allyson Logan, while 17th-ranked third-year Ade Omodele-Lucien handled fourth-year Annie Huizenga 6–3, 6–4 at second. At the sixth spot, Dulmage put up a fight before taking the Maroons’ only loss, falling to fourth-year Kim Bosscher 6–1, 4–6, 1–0.

The high-riding Maroons swept doubles competition with ease. Omodele-Lucien teamed up with Dayananda at first to crush Zeilstra and Oosterhouse 8–1. Parikh and classmate Alice Williams put up equally impressive numbers at second, notching an 8–1 decision of their own over Huizenga and Lipinski. Miller and Rajamani won a much closer 8–6 match over Bosscher and Logan at third.

Chicago took its A-game on the road Sunday, where they played even more fiercely against the Warhawks. At first singles, starter Dayananda trounced third-year Nicole Stamm 6–1, 6–1, and Parikh posted a 6–3, 6–3 victory over third-year Kara Theis. Williams, who did not compete in the singles competition Friday, easily defeated first-year Kara Amundson 6–3, 6–0 at the fourth slot. Omodele-Lucien notched a 6–2, 6–3 win over second-year Jessica Farrar at second. In sixth, Dulmage won a tight 7–5, 6–1 match against first-year Jenny Woyhan and Miller easily handled second-year Tiffany Dawson 6–0, 6–2 at fifth.

“The first set was very tiring. We both fought hard,” Dulmage said. “The second set was very relaxed. I convinced myself I was going to win and it just played out.”

In doubles competition, the Maroons mirrored their Friday performance against the Knights. Rajamani joined up with Miller to knock out Woyhan, and first-year Brittany Gering 8–3 at third. Dayananda paired up with Omodele-Lucien for an 8–2 victory against Stamm and Farrar at first, while Parikh and Williams held off Dawson and Theis 8–4 at second.

The squad’s weekend sweep stretched their winning streak to six games. After rebounding from close losses to 12th-ranked Carnegie Mellon and 14th-ranked Denison at Kenyon in early February, they have continued to rock back their nationally ranked opponents, earning revenge against Kenyon and shocking 28th-nationally ranked Carthage.

“It’s really exciting to knock off those teams,” Dulmage said. “People are starting to notice the University of Chicago. We’re not just dorks, we can play too. We’re very hungry to win.”

After a hectic schedule, the Maroons head into a two-week break from competition. They will have a chance to get some much-needed rest, with no practices this week and optional practices during finals week. They then head to Hilton Head, South Carolina for their spring break trip, where the determined team will battle ninth-ranked Middlebury, Southwestern, Hope, Carleton, and Division II 30th-ranked Washburn from March 20–23. The trip will give them a chance to hone their skills and strengthen their resolve as the squad looks toward the UAA Championships in Atlanta April 21–23, where a possible berth to the nationals awaits them.

“I believe in focusing on the now rather than the future,” Rajamani said. “But we’re going to try to keep our focus and momentum high.”