Spring break did not go according to plan for the Maroons (5–6) as they slumped to three consecutive defeats against No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (12–7), No. 2 Williams (11–0), and No. 8 Middlebury (6–2). While there’s certainly no shame in defeat against this caliber of opposition, head coach Jay Tee believes that the team will need greater consistency throughout its matches to take down such programs.
“To beat teams of this quality you need everyone playing well on the same day, and we didn’t do that. We had a few moments where we looked like we could compete with our opponents but we weren’t able to sustain it throughout the matches,” Tee said. “In the future we will need to do a better job of sticking to our game plans and not allowing ourselves to improvise when the scores get close.”
In its first match against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, No. 12 Chicago had a disappointing outing, losing five of its six singles matches in straight sets to result in an 8–1 defeat. Its next matchup, against a Williams program that has won the past six NCAA DIII titles, was always going to be a stiff challenge. The red-hot Ephs extended their winning streak to seven matches with a 9–0 victory in Whittier. While it was a comprehensive victory for Williams, third-year No. 1 singles veteran Megan Tang turned in a resolute performance against the Ephs’ No. 1 fourth-year Kara Shoemaker, an All-American in 2012, but was on the opposite end of a 6–4, 6–4 score line.
The final match of the trip against Middlebury offered little reprieve for the Maroons, as the Panthers served up an 8–1 victory, but one of the main positives of the day, and throughout the trek, was the performance of second-year Stephanie Lee in the sixth slot. Lee, who also won her Claremont match in straight sets, turned in a solid performance against Middlebury’s second-year Lauren Amos. She claimed her first pair of singles victories in four attempts on the season thus far, filling in capably following an injury to second-year Sruthi Ramaswami.
Fortunately for the Maroons, their upcoming schedule will be much more navigable, according to Tee.
“We know that we probably won’t face a team as good as the last three we played until the NCAAs. We can get back into regional play knowing we’ve faced the toughest teams in the country, and now we have that experience to rely on when we travel to Madison. We go into this weekend with confidence, however, knowing we’re the defending champion and proving that we are still the team to beat in the Central,” Tee said.
The South Siders will have an excellent opportunity to snap their four-game losing streak in this weekend’s Midwest Invitational, where they will play against Hope (6–2–1) and other teams to be determined.