The men’s and women’s tennis squads have started their 2015–2016 campaign with an impressive string of top finishes in its first week of play.
At the Greater Cincinnati Collegiate Tennis Invitational in Mason, OH, the Chicago men kicked off its season against a field of Division I competition. The squad finished the weekend with a pair of singles titles. After solid first days, second-year David Liu and first-year Jonathan Li faced off against each other in the final match. Experience helped David Liu prevail over newcomer Li in three sets, 2–6, 6–2, 10–3. Second-year Luke Tsai also picked up a win in the final match, making it look easy against his opponent from St. Francis of Pennsylvania.
Next, the Maroons headed to St. Louis to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Central Region Championship. On the first of four days of competition, the South Siders cruised to a 19–1 singles record. A highlight of the day was second-year Michael Selin’s win over the No. 6 seed from Wash U, an upset on his home court. Chicago also found success in doubles, going 8–2 on the day.
On day two, five Chicago players progressed to singles quarterfinals, going 12–4 overall. In doubles play, the Maroons went 6–2.
Glory came on day three with the Maroons winning the doubles title. At the No. 11 seeds, the second-year duo of Nicolas Chua and Liu defeated the No. 2 seeds from Kenyon in the semifinals. The pair then went on to overcome the No. 11 seeds from Case Western. Their victory secured them a spot in the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in October.
In singles play, three Chicago players advanced to the singles semifinals. Second-year Nicolas Chua came out on top in the final, after defeating first-year teammate Max Liu.
Commenting on how experience helped him in the match, Chua said, “I think knowing how to deal with pressure situations and being in a lot of do or die scenarios in the past helped me a lot this weekend.”
Max Liu agreed with his older teammate, adding, “Playing college tennis requires a lot of discipline both mentally and physically and the ability to consistently play with the correct mind set as well as being able to adapt to changing conditions will be the key to moving forward.”
Chua is now gearing up to compete in the USTA/ITA Championships in October. “There are lots of things that I would love to improve on, but really I want to get in the best physical shape possible before the tournament. This was a grueling weekend and being fresh for nationals will be huge for me.”
Chua and Max Liu both reflect what has allowed the team to find so much success so early in the season.
“I think the main strength of our team is our depth,” Chua said. Every player can play in virtually any spot on the team, and even the players that won’t make the top six would be good enough to play top six at most other schools…I think we have a definite chance of being even stronger than last year.”
The women’s squad has also found success early, with strong performances at the three-day Bradley Invitational among six DI programs. In the final day of competition, first-year Rachel Kim faced off against second-year teammate Ariana Iranpour. After Kim dominated the first set 6–0, experience came into play as Iranpour rallied to win the next two sets 6–2 and 10–4.
In doubles play, Kim paired with second-year Courtney Warren, third-year Tiffany Chen, and fourth-year Lucy Tang, and each pair won their respective consolation finals to wrap up a strong weekend.
The women will travel to Kalamazoo, MI for the ITA Central Region Championships this weekend. On the men’s side, individuals will compete in the upcoming USTA/ITA Championships in October, yet the next team competition is not until January when the Maroons will play versus Chicago State.