The new year got off to a rocky start for men’s tennis, which opened the 2008 campaign with a 6–1 loss to D-I Northwestern (2–0). Despite the rough overall finish for the Maroons, Sunday stood out as a shining day for Chicago rookies, offering a glimpse of things to come for the squad.
Amid the sea of talented new faces, one player leapt from the crowd to the forefront of the Maroon–Wildcat fray. First-year Will Zhang nabbed the lone victory for Chicago, with a 7–6 (3–0), 3–6, 10–7 triumph. Zhang’s fought all the way for the match, finally overcoming first-year Peter Rispoli in a high-intensity tiebreaker.
With a young roster that includes five first-years and three second-years on its 13-man arsenal, the Maroons are poised to flush out the green team. Expectations are high for the squad, with hopes for a solid finish in the UAA Championship in April. Chicago wrapped 2007 with a 10–8 record, placing third at the league conferences, up from a fifth-place finish in 2006. Additionally, then–first-year Noah Schneider and then–third-year Bharath Sithian were recognized with places on the all-UAA team in first team singles.
Moving up from a year spent playing mostly second and third singles, second-year Garrett Brinker started in his second game ever at first singles. Despite falling to Northwestern’s Marc Dwyer in a quick 6–1, 6–1 loss, Brinker’s 2007 record of 12–6 promises many wins to come for the Maroons.
The expectations for the Maroons are pretty high this season as they follow head coach Marty Perry into his fifth year on the South Side. With Perry at the helm, Chicago has achieved some of its greatest triumphs over 10 years, including the UAA victory and three national singles qualifiers at NCAAs.
Next up for the Maroons is a home game against Chicago State at Ballys January 26.