After practicing for just three weeks, the women's tennis team started the fall season with a strong win over St. Joseph's College on October 17. The match, the only one scheduled for fall, allowed the team to test its competitive edge before the regular season begins in February.
"It was a lot of fun. I didn't feel threatened at all," said first-year Stacey Kigar of her first collegiate match. Kigar and second-year Janae Winner claimed an 8-6 victory in their doubles match. Chicago swept all their doubles matches.
Following the doubles, Ade Omobele-Lucien, Shoshi Kreiger, and Sara Berkemeier clenched easy wins in their singles matches with respective scores of 6-1, 6-0 (first singles), 6-1, 6-2 (fourth singles), and 6-0, 6-3 (fifth singles).
Second-year Liz Saydah took the first set of her singles match 6-3 but struggled in the second with a few disputed line calls and a change in her opponent's game. After losing the second set 3-6, the match went to a third set tiebreaker in which Saydah managed to pull through and claim a 6-3, 3-6, 10-5 victory.
The afternoon ended as the team watched and cheered on Winner, the sixth singles player, who also played a long three-set match. After losing the first set 5-7, Winner fought back to win the second set 6-4 and bring the match to a third-set tiebreaker. In an extremely close 14-16 loss in the tiebreaker, Winner and her opponent juggled points, each player determined not to give up the match.
After a change in the coaching staff, the members of the team have a positive outlook on their potential and view the recent meet as a harbinger of success in the season to come. Last year's coaches have been replaced by Marty Perry and Eric Mahone, with last year's head coach, Bill Simms, staying on as a volunteer assistant coach.
Perry most recently coached both men's and women's tennis at Colgate University and previously was an assistant coach at the College of William and Mary, a team ranked as high as 45 in the nation under Perry's guidance. With a strong coaching background in NCAA Division I college tennis programs, Perry has much to offer Chicago. His objectives for this year's program include making a more in-depth match schedule against more competitive schools such as Washington University, which has placed second at UAAs in 13 of the past 15 years.
In terms of actual performance, Perry hopes to set a foundation of high percentage play to cut back on unforced errors and good communication skills in doubles strategy. On Friday's match, Perry was quite pleased with the team's performance.
"It was a great start to our season," Perry said. "We've only been practicing three weeks, and everyone put forth a great effort."
The general consensus among the team supports the new style of coaching that Perry has brought to the tennis program. Multiple players have said that Perry is not lenient in practice and makes the team work hard, most likely referring to the daily physical conditioning regimen Perry has implemented since the first practice.
"We have a great coach that will make us play up to our potential," said second-year Katie Dulmage. "I already feel like a better player."