Chicago’s remarkable 10-match winning streak will be put to the test this weekend.
After returning home with a 4–0 record over spring break in Hilton Head, SC, the Maroons (11–1) get set to take on UW–Whitewater (7–11) and Carroll College (8–5) this Saturday.
Chicago’s one loss this season came against No. 2 Kenyon College (11–3) on February 10. Since then, they’ve won 10 in a row. Head coach Jay Tee credits his team’s success to a particular strategy of focusing more on the preparation than the outcome.
“I was guilty early on of putting too much emphasis on our match versus Kenyon, and by doing that I think I distracted the team and made the result more important than the process,” Tee said. “Since then we’ve talked more about personal accountability and competing at a high level mentally rather than wins and losses.”
Tee’s tactic has paid off: By not thinking about wins, the Maroons have accumulated 10 of them since that loss to Kenyon—and are hoping to grab two more this weekend.
Despite the two upcoming opponents’ records, UW–Whitewater is a stronger team than Carroll. The Whitewater Warhawks and Chicago have played two of the same teams this season, Kenyon and DePauw University (3–11), and have fared similarly. Kenyon beat Whitewater 7–2 and Chicago 9–0. Comparably, Whitewater beat DePauw 8–1 and the Maroons beat DePauw 7–2.
Seeing as the Maroons are 11–1 while the Warhawks are just 7–11, Whitewater clearly has a tougher schedule. The Warhawks are ranked No. 29 nationally and the Maroons No. 30.
On the other hand, against Chicago and Carroll’s common opponents, the Maroons have dominated while the Pioneers have struggled. The Maroons crushed Elmhurst College 8–1; the Pioneers lost 9–0. Chicago beat Colby College 6–3; Carroll lost 6–3.
Tee has been pleased with the team this season. He attributes the hot streak to selfless play and hard work.
“The guys have bought into the team concept and are playing for each other,” Tee said. “They’re also a very talented and motivated group. We’ve worked very hard since last September and we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor. It sounds cliché, but we really are getting better every day.”
He also credits a deep lineup.
“The great thing about this team is our depth,” Tee said. “During the past 10 matches, all 11 players have contributed at least one team point, which is a luxury as a coach. I have confidence that I can call anyone’s name and they can step up and get a win for us.”
Second-year Deepak Sabada has been the team’s No. 1 singles player this year. He has upped his game from last season, when he was No. 6 in the UChicago lineup.
“Deepak has earned his teammates’ trust and respect with his play,” Tee said. ”For us to reach our goals this year, we knew we needed someone who could compete at the No. 1 position, and Deepak has been more than we could have asked for.”
Sabada and the Maroons take to the courts in Whitewater, WI, on Saturday, first against the Warhawks at 10 a.m. and then against the Pioneers at 2 p.m.