The Maroons went toe-to-toe with DI DePaul this Friday. While the Blue Demons came away with five of the six matches, the young Chicago squad gained high-level collegiate experience and a chip on their shoulder.
“I think the most important thing we can take away from the match is we aren’t where we want to be yet. It’s easy to get complacent after a great fall, but I think this match was a good reminder that we must get better as individuals and as a team,” said first-year standout Nick Chua.
Chua is joined by three fellow first-years in the starting lineup of six. Despite their youth, the South Siders came into the season ranked No. 17, in large part due to Chua’s performance in the fall. Chua won the singles title at both the National Small College Championships and the Central Region Championships, earning ITA All-American accolades a mere three months into his college career.
However, DePaul’s third-year Sten Leusink proved too much for the young star in a No. 1 singles matchup. Leusink took the first set 6–3, but Chua bounced back in the second set to take the All-Big East Dutch into a sudden death tiebreaker. Leusink snuck away with the victory, winning in sudden death by a score of 7–5.
Despite a pair of close encounters, victory eluded the lone fourth-year in the lineup, Deepak Sabada. Sabada and first-year David Liu dropped the No. 1 doubles match by a slim 6–4 margin to the Blue Demon pair of fourth-year David Vieyra and third-year Jan-Willem Feilzer. At No. 2 singles, Sabada was again edged out, this time by DePaul second-year Nathan de Veer, 7–6 (7–3), 6–2.
The lone win of the day came from first-year Luke Tsai. In his first collegiate match, Tsai faced off against third-year Paul John. Tsai started out strong, winning the first set 6–2, only to drop the second set by the same score. The rookie then captured the third set 6–4 to earn his first collegiate victory.
“My goals heading into the match against DePaul was mainly just to compete my hardest and try to acclimate myself to the college tennis atmosphere because it was my first dual match,” Tsai said. “I’m really happy I got my first collegiate win, but I know that there’s still a lot of work to be done for myself and the team.”
The No. 3 singles match proved to be the most thrilling of the day. Second-year Sven Kranz took DePaul’s third-year Kyle Johnson to a third set after having bounced back from a first set loss to win the second 6–3. The two battled until the very end, with Johnson coming away with a 7–4 victory in a sudden death tiebreaker. Kranz and fellow second-year Max Hawkins also suffered a 6–2 loss in No. 3 doubles at the hands of the Blue Demons.
The fledgling Maroons will look to learn from the fierce competition of last weekend as they prepare for the season ahead, with Coe up next on their schedule.
Chua echoed the sentiments of the team when he said, “Coach Tee knows what we have to work on and we’re working very hard in practice, so I’m confident that we’ll keep improving and working towards our goals.”