Fifteenth-ranked men’s tennis gears up for the UAA Conference Championship this weekend, which should prove to be quite a battle.
“The UAA men’s [tennis] tournament is really competitive,” head coach Marty Perry said. “If you look at the national rankings, you can see how deep the conference is. It’s probably one of the tougher conference championships.”
Wash U and Emory, for instance, are in the top ten.
The rankings may not even reflect all of the top competition in the conference, however. “Brandeis and Case aren’t even in the top [thirty] but they are great teams,” Perry continued.
The Maroons will face Brandeis first on Friday morning.
“Brandeis is very good,” Perry said. “Their one and two singles, and their number one doubles are strong; just right there, those are three points that will be hard for us to get.”
Chicago has been sailing through their past few meets, but this hasn’t been ideal in terms of getting the team ready for UAAs.
“We’ve had easy matches [recently],” Perry explained, “so we’ve tried to push ourselves in practice.”
The team has been scrimmaging to try to get into the mode of competing since their last meet, a 9–0 home win against North Central.
In practice, the Maroons played an inter-squad match of a singles set and doubles pro-set Tuesday evening.
“They did a good job – everyone played really hard,” Perry said. “They pushed each other and gave each other tough competition; it had to come from within this week.”
“We haven’t had any tough matches since spring break,” second-year Troy Brinker said.
Heading into the UAAs, Perry’s goal for Chicago is to stay loose and let fourth-years Garret Brinker and Steve Saltarelli set the tone.
“[Brinker and Saltarelli] make up our number one doubles team, so they always set the tone for the first part of the match,” he said. “They’ve both been with us four years and have a high level of commitment to the team.”
“They do a lot of supporting off the court and set the tone with their great enthusiasm and a lot of energy,” he continued. “This is really important, especially in a tournament [like the UAAs] where every match will be heated and will be competitive.”
Overall, the team is psyched for the conference championships.
Troy Brinker explained his pre-match routine, which we can only assume other players on the team adopt as well: “Most of my game revolves around the proper infliction of mind games, but I can’t do that unless I reach the proper zen beforehand. This is usually achieved through listening to only the best trance beats, and of course, DJ Splash. He always gets it done for me.”
Going into the tournament, the Maroons are fired up. “Going into the UAAs, we are one sport out of the NCAAs, even though we’re 15 in the nation,” Troy Brinker said. “We had a bad loss to Kalamazoo, but we also had a very close 5–4 loss to Wash U. Being jipped out of the rankings, we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder and we feel like we need to prove ourselves.”
“If we can get past Brandeis, we will be looking forward to re-playing Wash U,” head coach Perry added.
Chicago will face Brandeis at 9 a.m. at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA, in their first challenge at the UAAs.