SPORTS

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March 3, 2009

Young Chicago runs streak to four with win over Calvin

If anyone had concerns about women’s tennis winning with such a young team this season, an altered Maroons lineup put those concerns to rest with a 9–0 victory over Calvin this weekend.With an all-first-year singles lineup Friday night, Chicago (4–2) took five of six singles matches in straight sets and dropped only nine doubles games combined against Calvin (1–1), as the South Siders ran their win streak to four heading into a three-week break.While no rankings have been released since November’s poll put the Maroons in the 15th spot, consecutive wins over Denison, Kenyon, and Calvin have the young Chicago squad primed for a jump on the new list, which will be released today.In the final home match of the season, the Maroons mixed up the bottom half of the singles lineup, moving first-year Tiffany Nguyen up from the sixth spot to second and moving fellow first-years Aswini Krishnan and Markie Westwood to the fifth and sixth spots, respectively.With fourth-year Vindya Dayananda and second-year Chrissy Hu, regulars in the singles lineup, playing only doubles, the new lineup delivered a dominant performance against the visiting Knights.“It’ll give [the younger players] more confidence, especially coming off a win this weekend, and it also shows how deep our team is,” first-year Jennifer Kung said. “Even the people who don’t always play singles are still good and can still win matches if we need them.”Hu and first-year Kendra Higgins captured an 8–2 victory at first doubles, and Dayananda and first-year Jennifer Kung matched their feat with an 8–2 win at the second spot.Closing out doubles play, Westwood and Krishnan scored an 8–5 win in their first game together since the fall season.In singles, Kung faced Chicago’s toughest challenge of the evening at the first spot, edging out Calvin’s Melissa Oosterhouse 6–2, 1–6, 7–5. From there, though, the Maroons were untouchable.Playing in their normal positions, first-years Kendra Higgins and Carmen VacaGuzman continued to add onto already strong resumes at second and third singles, respectively. Higgins took a 6–1, 6–0 win at the second spot, while VacaGuzman remained undefeated in D-III play with 6–2, 6–0 victory at third singles.Nguyen rolled to a 6–1, 6–3 victory in her first contest of the year at fourth singles, and Krishnan and Westwood both picked up straight set wins, closing out Chicago’s sweep.The win means the Maroons head into an extended three-week break from competition boasting four straight wins, including two consecutive 9–0 performances.“My match was pretty tough, but overall, our team dominated,” Kung said. “Our team is just really strong and really talented, so when we play our best tennis we can beat the best teams in the country.”Friday’s performance was also a further testament to a team that has prided itself on depth all season. All but two players on the team have winning records on the season, and Chicago has improved its winning percentage to .642 in singles matches this year.“There’s no real drop off as you move down our lineup,” Kung said. “All of our starters are all very good and all of us fight really hard, and we keep trying and don’t give up.”Now the Maroons are tasked with staying in competitive form until their next match March 24, a contest that marks the start of a spring break in which they’ll play five matches in six days.With competition against D-III powerhouses like DePauw and Middlebury during the spring break trip to South Carolina, the young Chicago squad is hoping to stay consistently strong as the regular season winds down.“We try to look at it like we don’t really have any pressure because we’re such a young team,” first-year Jennifer Kung said. “There aren’t as many expectations for us since we’re less experienced.”