In a showdown between two young squads, women’s tennis proved to have the upper hand in rookie and sophomore talent.
Coming off of a string of close matches, the Maroons came out with renewed energy against Wash U (1–1) Saturday, taking all three doubles matches and sweeping the six singles competitions to complete the 9–0 blanking. Early in a season of great expectations, Chicago’s win this weekend pushed its record to 3–2 as the squad managed to grab victories in three of its last four matches.
Strong all through the lineup, the Maroons claimed each of its tandem bouts in lopsided fashion. First-year Justine Kentla and third-year Michele Parad seized an 8–2 decision after controlling most of the match at third doubles. Moving up the lineup from there, second-year Anuja Parikh teamed up with fourth-year Omodele-Lucien took care of business at second doubles with a quick 8–0 rout, while second-year Vindya Dayananda and first-year Marissa Lin dealt the Bears an 8–4 defeat on the first doubles court. The squad is 14–10 in partners contests, with Dayananda and Lin leading the charge at 7–1 and working on a five-match winning streak.
“I think our doubles playing is really strong right now,” head coach Martin Perry said. “We made some huge improvements as the season went along, and we’re going to continue to work on our doubles game.”
Singles competition saw the Maroons continue their domination over the Bears, as five straight-set victories for the hosts brought a quick finish to the match. Each of the killer combos from earlier on the night returned to the court to strike out in singles play and cap off the overpowering doubles performance with equally effective force.
Proving once again to be one of the top players, rookie Lin breezed by first-year Allison Dender 6–1, 6–1 at second singles to improve her season mark to 7–3. Kentla notched a 6–4, 6–2 win over first-year Elsie Dorsett at the sixth court, showing the Maroons have what it takes to deliver in the clutch to back up solid outings by the top of the lineup.
Keeping up the team effort, members of last year’s breakthrough class Parikh and Parad chipped in two more wins at fourth and fifth singles. Parikh battled for the 7–1 tiebreak in the first set to pull away with the 7–6, 6–1 decision over first-year Julie Bowerman while Parad issued a 6–1, 6–2 pounding to first-year Stephanie Paul. Sole veteran Omodele-Lucien breezed through her match with second-year Ania Tchergueiko.
“We took this opportunity to really come together,” Perry said. “Wash U is a great team, so we’re all satisfied with the performance this weekend.”
While the Maroons turned in impressive outings on all levels, the best matchup of the night came from the first-singles court with Dayananda grinding it out against Wash U fourth-year Erin Fleming in a tough, pressure-packed match.
“Erin beat Vindya last year in the UAA tournament match,” Perry said. “So we’re really happy she pulled through in this one. I think she has really stepped up, and she playing with confidence and without fear.”
Coming out strong at the start, Dayananda captured the first set with a 6–4 victory but lost focus in the second set, giving it up in a 1–6 landslide. All eyes were on the third and final set, which came down to the wire, but last year’s UAA Rookie of the Year managed to take home the victory with a 7–5 standoff.
“Everyone performed against Wash U on Saturday. We have been working hard to tighten up our singles game and our players executed well,” Perry said. “I think the whole team played well, and everyone showed up to play.”
Hoping to maintain momentum from the Wash U squashing, the Maroons will play host again this Saturday against Carthage (2–0) before taking off for Florida over spring break.