February 13, 2007

Sports Shorts 2/13/07: Nationally ranked squads top men's tennis

Taking on a pair of nationally ranked teams, men’s tennis dropped both of its matches this weekend but still managed to put up strong performances across the board.

Traveling to Ohio, the Maroons (1–3) were edged 5–4 by 17th-ranked Denison (1–0) Friday before falling 6–3 to 24th-ranked Kenyon (1–1) Saturday.

Some solid outings by second-year Bharath Sithian and first-years Grant Brinker and Noah Schneider helped Chicago split singles competition against Denison before the squad eventually lost out in doubles play. Squaring off at third singles, Brinker grabbed a 6–0, 7–6 (7–4) victory, while Schneider and Sithian pulled out 6–2, 7–5 and 6–3, 5–7, 1–0 (10–8) decisions playing at the bottom of the lineup.

The top spots for the Maroons had a bit more trouble getting the job done against Denison, with both first-year Steve Saltarelli and fourth-year Vivek Venkataraman bested by their Big Red competition. Taking another start at first singles, Saltarelli couldn’t muster much of a fight against third-year Rand Lofgren and got blanked 6–0, 6–0. Venkataraman seemed to have a more promising match at the second slot, taking the opening set 6–4 but then lost the next two 6–2, dropping the veteran’s season mark to 0–3.

In doubles play, the top of the Maroons got crushed again with third-year Joseph Tchan and second-year Alex Winney getting an 8–1 pounding. Chicago grabbed its last win on the day—the confident tandem of Brinker and Schneider edged third-years Tom Hodgkiss-Lilly and Charlie Poe 8–5 to improve their record together to 8–4.

Returning to the action Saturday, the South Siders faced what turned out to be an even more formidable foe. Though Kenyon is ranked seven spots behind Denison, the Lords managed to take the Maroons down another peg, with Chicago claiming just two singles contests and one doubles showdown.

Switching places with Saltarelli, Venkataraman had a stronger day taking the start at first singles but was still ousted 6–4, 6–4 by second-year Robert Alef. Saltarelli meanwhile put up the biggest nail-biter of the weekend, eking out a 7–6, 6–7, 1–0 (14–12) win over fourth-year Sean Stewart in the only match to last the full three sets. The rookie and the veteran ended their weekend on a high note when they combined forces to defeat Stewart and third-year Greg Sussman 8–3.

Chicago hits the court again Saturday when the squad makes the trip to Crawfordsville, Indiana to take on Wooster and Wabash.