First-year Kat Stevanovich prepares to serve.
Courtesy of University of Chicago Athletics Department
This weekend, the No. 16–ranked Maroons will travel south to Florida to compete in the UAA Championships. With an initial quarterfinal match scheduled for Friday against the No. 20–ranked Case Western Reserve Spartans, the Maroons will look to play their way to a conference title.
The other teams in the tournament are Rochester, Carnegie Mellon, Wash U, Brandeis, NYU, and Emory. While No. 1 Emory will provide the biggest challenge of any potential opponent, this Chicago squad comes in with a formidable roster of its own.
This season has been a strong one for the Maroons, as they will enter the eight-team tournament boasting a 9–4 record. However, they will be up against fierce competition, facing the best teams that the UAA has to offer. Case Western provides an instant example, as it handed the Maroons a harrowing 5–4 loss in their final match of the regular season. Chicago will be looking to strike back on Friday.
“I guess revenge is one way of putting it,” fourth-year Stephanie Lee said of facing the Spartans for the second straight match. “We're definitely looking to take it to Case and have been working a lot on being mentally tough on big points. It’ll be a big first match for us and I think all our hard work will help us come out on top,” she said.
As the postseason gets under way, the pressure will begin to ratchet up as the stakes of each game get higher and higher. Given that most of its games during the season were fairly lopsided, the team spent the week in practice preparing for this big stage. “We’ve been doing a lot of match play,” Lee said. “In particular, match play with a lot of pressure points.”
The team will be looking to better its performance from last year, when it was bounced in the second round by the formidable Emory, then dropped the third-place match to Wash U to register a fourth place finish. However, this squad is ready to rewrite last year’s history. Armed with a better record than last year’s 13–12 and fresh faces (the team carries six first-years), this group will draw on its experiences from the season to help achieve its goals.
“It really comes down to those pressure moments and maintaining focus,” Lee said, speaking as a wise fourth-year. “We’ve had a lot of matches swing one way or another based on just a few points. Capitalizing on those big points is going to be key for us, especially going into this Case match.”
Friday’s match is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. on Friday, April 22 in Altamonte Springs, FL.