It was a mid-season upset that cost men’s tennis an NCAA bid last season. This time around, 21st-ranked Kalamazoo played the role of spoiler, staining the 16th-ranked Maroons’ résumé with a 7–2 upset Sunday.
Coming off a close loss to third-ranked Wash U a week ago, the Maroons (4–5) stumbled for their second D-III loss of the season. After capturing two doubles victories, the Hornets (2–1) dominated singles play, with five two-set wins on the afternoon.
“It was one of those matches where nobody did well,” third-year Will Zhang said. “Very few of the guys did as well as they could have.”
Zhang provided one of the lone bright spots of the match, winning the first singles match 6–4, 7–6 (3). The rest of the Maroons lineup struggled, however, as no one else won more than four games in a set.
In doubles, second-years Troy Brinker and Jan Stefanski continued a dominant stretch of play, winning 8–5 for their sixth victory in seven matches.
Issues of consistency have troubled the Maroons over the past few seasons, with a loss to lower-ranked DePauw coming back to bite Chicago during postseason selection at the end of last season.
While the loss to Kalamazoo may be a more troubling setback, the Maroons fortunately have over two months to make their way back into tournament contention.
Zhang was optimistic about the rest of the season and looked ahead to some potential upsets down the road for Chicago.
“[The loss] puts more pressure on us to win some of the other big matches,” he said.
Now, the Maroons are targeting March 6 and March 26 as turning points for the season. On March 6, Chicago heads to 12th-ranked DePauw. The March 26 date with eighth-ranked Johns Hopkins gives the squad another shot at a quality win at the end of spring break.
With two other members of the conference ranked ahead of them—Emory is second and Carnegie is ninth—the UAA Championship gives the squad one last chance to make a case to the selection committee.
The Maroons return to the court on March 5 at 27th-ranked Luther (9–1).