Women’s tennis received some warm Southern hospitality during its spring break tour, which ended with the team moving into the top 25 in the national rankings.
The Maroons left Hilton Head, SC with a 3–1 record and momentum for the final stretch of the season. They plowed through UW–Whitewater (14–4) March 24, Oberlin (4–7) and Carleton (5–6) March 27, and dropped their meet against DePauw (12–2) March 25.
Winner of five of its last six meets, Chicago used its spring break to establish itself as one of the tougher opponents in the competitive Central Region. The 23rd-ranked Maroons (9–4) are currently fifth in the region and are hoping to make a huge push in the next three weeks for a possible UAA championship.
“I think that our enhanced level of play is due to the fact that in the week leading up to spring break, the girls had the opportunity to hit with [fourth-year] Bharath Sithian, one of the best tennis players on the men’s tennis team,” second-year Justine Kentla said.
Monday’s matchup was the first step toward guaranteeing success on the trip, when the Maroons defeated a Whitewater team with an impressive 14–4 record by a score of 6–3. With the Warhawks coming off a 9–0 blowout of Colby College (3–6), Chicago proved that it was worthy of national ranking by stopping the team’s momentum with an impressive victory.
The matches included stellar performances by the South Side’s top-four seeds: second-year Marissa Lin, third-year Vindya Dayananda, first-year Chrissy Hu, and Kentla. The four were responsible for all six victories for the Maroons against Whitewater, running away with four of the six singles matchups and two of the three doubles matchups.
With Lin as the top-ranked Maroon, her duties on the team have greatly changed since her first year when she was the new kid on the block.
“As a second-year I do feel that I carry a bit more responsibility in setting an example for the freshmen. Vindya is officially captain, but we both have certain roles to fulfill in terms of leading and motivating the team,” Lin said.
Although riding high off of the opening win, the Maroons were stymied by fifth-ranked DePauw. While Chicago sported a 3–1 record last week, the Tigers were undefeated in South Carolina, posting a 4–0 record. South Carolina definitely found its toughest opponent in Chicago. The South Siders took the Tigers to the limit before DePauw pulled off a narrow 5–4 win.
“Taking the first sets in one through four singles against number five DePauw—winning in straight sets at one through three and pushing number four to a match-deciding third set was the highlight of the weekend,” head coach Marty Perry said.
Once again the Maroons proved that they were no cakewalk against one of the toughest teams in DIII. However, Lin and Dayananda, who are ranked third and 10th respectively in the Central, won their singles and doubles matches, and Hu notched a singles victory; the Maroons were unable to grab another W in the other five matchups.
With two days of rest, the Maroons licked their wounds from the close loss and got ready for their date with Oberlin and Carleton on Thursday.
Chicago opened up Thursday with a great bounce-back performance against Carleton with a 5–2 win. The top three seeds took care of business in both their singles and doubles matches, winning all of their contests.
To close out the day and the week, the Maroons took on their Ohio rivals: Oberlin College. Chicago ended the week on a high note with a 7–2 triumph over the Yeowomen. Now Chicago must look ahead to this weekend’s Midwest Invite in Madison, WI.
“We need to continue to play hard and not think about consequences. We’re very talented, and if the players can stay mentally strong, this team has the ability to do well down the stretch,” Perry said.