SPORTS

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February 3, 2009

Maroons open D-III schedule with dominant singles play

Men’s tennis picked up its first win of the season Saturday, digging out of an early doubles hole to get a home victory over UW–Whitewater.

Two D-I opponents had made for a rough start to the season. Before Saturday, 25th-ranked Chicago (1–2) dropped a pair of 7–0 decisions against DePaul and Northwestern, and with Whitewater coming to town, Chicago wanted to assert itself in DIII. After struggling at doubles, the Maroons won all but one in singles, setting the team up for the 6–3 win.

“It was a good start to our D-III schedule,” head coach Marty Perry said. “Any time you go down 2–1 and win five of six singles, it’s hard to be negative about that.”

To open the evening, the Maroons dropped frustrating matches at first and second doubles that stayed almost entirely on serve. At the top spot, third-years Garrett Brinker and Steve Saltarelli fell 9–8 (11–9), and at second doubles, the duo of third-year Lado Bakhutashvili and first-year Jan Stefanski lost 9–8 (10–3).

After Whitewater took the first two matches, the pairing of second-year Mark Bonner and first-year Troy Brinker, who were playing their first match together, put Chicago on the board with an 8–2 win.

“We handled being down 2–1 about as well as you can,” Perry said. “We didn’t let our doubles affect our singles, and I think that’s a good thing.”

The Maroons came back strong in singles competition. Second-year Will Zhang picked up the win at first singles, and Bakhutashvili and Saltarelli notched wins at the second and fifth positions, respectively. After losing at the four spot, Chicago needed a win from either Bonner or Troy Brinker to clinch the victory, and both pulled out three-set victories to close out the match.

Chicago’s next meet is this Friday against D-I opponent Chicago State, but the Maroons are focused primarily on their Ohio road trip on February 13 and 14, an annual yardstick that the team uses to test its mettle against D-III competition.