October 6, 2006

Sports Shorts 10/6/06: Women's tennis strong in debut

When most teams take six months off from competition, they aren’t supposed to come back this sharp. In their first tournament of the fall season after a breakout performance last spring, though, women’s tennis picked up right where it left off.

Competing at the ITA Central regional tournament in Springfield, OH, the Maroons sent two players to the semifinals and received a pair of solid performances. Fourth-seeded second-year All-American Vindya Dayananda lived up to her seeding with a semi-final run while first-year Marissa Lin joined her with an impressive run of her own.

While the fourth-seeded Dayananda was far from her end-of-season form, she exhibited a willingness to adapt to her competition that bodes well for the remainder of the season. Faced with unfavorable matchups, she took a more proactive approach. With two wins over seeded opponents and a trip to the semifinals, it was far from an unsuccessful weekend despite not playing her best tennis. Dayananda came up short against Denison second-year Meghan Damico, taking the straight set 6–2, 6–4 loss.

“Vindya came in to the net a lot more—she played more aggressively, and that’s what the matchups dictated. She was a little out of her comfort zone, but in the end I think that will help her,” Perry said. “It’s something that she’ll improve on over the course of the year.”

In her first competitive matches for the Maroons, first-year sensation Lin displayed her technique and strong court presence when she plowed into the tournament’s penultimate round. With the exception of a three-set victory in the third round, the rookie cruised into the semifinals, where she fell 6–0, 6–3 to first-seeded fourth-year Liz Bondi of DePauw.

“I had not seen her play much but I knew she’d be good. I wasn’t surprised,” Perry said. “They were all good matchups for her, and it says a lot about her ability.”

While Lin and Dayananda brought most of the attention over to their courts, the rest of the Maroons’ roster put up strong fights against their opponents on the other side of the net.

Despite going into the weekend with lowered expectations after an injury-plagued spring season, third-year Michelle Parad pulled off an encouraging run to the round of sixteen before losing to DePauw first-year Greer Mackie 6–3, 0–6, 6–2. Parad had cruised through each of her first three matches in straight sets before coming up short against Mackie.

“I could see that she’s gotten back what she lost over the season last year,” Perry said. “She played really well and could’ve won.”

Second-year Anuja Parikh, faced with a tough draw, dropped her second round contest to last season’s finalist, sixth-seeded DePauw third-year Amrita Padda 6–4, 7–5.

“She played a very competitive match and played hard from start to finish,” said Perry. “It was a very long match, maybe the longest of the tournament, and there was a lot of pressure on her to avoid the superbreak.”

All in all, it was an encouraging dry run for a Chicago squad with plenty of time to iron out the wrinkles before spring competition starts.