SPORTS

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February 10, 2009

Against D-I foes, Maroons eke out two wins

The men’s and women’s tennis teams impressed in last weekend’s showdown against D-I opponent Chicago State.

On Friday night, playing host to Chicago State (0–2) at Bally’s Hyde Park, the men’s team (2–2) pulled out a 4–3 win. The 15th-ranked women’s team (2–2) followed up Saturday night with a 4–3 win over the visiting Cougars (0–1).

Things did not start out well for 25th-ranked Chicago, which had sustained two lopsided 7–0 losses at DePaul and Northwestern to start the season. In each of those two contests, the Maroons struggled from top to bottom, never picking up a set.

Friday’s match followed a similar pattern for the top men’s players, as losses in the first three singles matches canceled out the 1–0 lead that first-year Jan Stefanski and third-year Lado Bakhutashvili earned with a win at first doubles. Second-year Will Zhang and first-year Troy Brinker lost in straight sets at first and second singles, respectively, and third-year Garrett Brinker suffered a three-set loss of his own at the third spot.

The Maroons answered in impressive fashion in the lower half of their singles card, however, as Stefanski put away his opponent in straight sets 6–2, 6–1 at fourth singles. Second-year Alex Winney followed suit in fifth singles, handily winning his match 6–0, 6–0, and the Maroons’ automatic advantage at sixth singles meant the 4–3 win.

For the season, Zhang has paced Chicago in singles competition, boasting a consistent 6–4 mark, while Stefanski and Bakhutashvili have posted a respectable 3–4 record of their own in doubles. Friday night’s victory over the Cougars was the Maroon men’s second straight victory, with both of their wins coming at home in the early portion of the season.

The next night, the women’s team, boasting a talented seven-player rookie class headlined by first-year Jennifer Kung, opened with an early 1–0 deficit after doubles. Fourth-year Vindya Dayananda and Kung took an 8–7 (10–4) win at second doubles, but Chicago State jumped on top with wins at the other doubles spots.

The Maroons, however, bounced back with a strong performance in singles. After dropping her first set at first singles 7–6 (7–5), Kung responded by winning the next two 6–4, 6–2 to take the match. Other singles winners included first-years Carmen VacaGuzman and Tiffany Nguyen, who earned straight-set wins at third and sixth singles, respectively. Classmate Kendra Higgins also picked up a three-set victory at second singles.

Kung has dominated her competition thus far in the season, evidenced by her 13–2 overall record in first singles. Similarly, VacaGuzman has posted solid numbers in the third singles slot with a 7–3 overall mark. On the season, the team is 46–31 in singles and 16–15 in doubles play.

While this past weekend saw both Maroons squads emerge victorious, they eye a difficult contest at rival Denison on February 13, with men’s play starting at 2 p.m. before the women’s team takes the court at 6 p.m.