February 28, 2006

Former tournament foe upends men’s tennis

For men’s tennis, a familiar foe yielded a familiar result. With regional supremacy on the line, the Maroons fell hard at home.

Looking to avenge last season’s first-round NCAA tournament exit at the hands of Carthage, Chicago instead found itself on the losing end once more against its old nemesis. The 25th-ranked Maroons (5–3) dropped a 6–1 decision to 20th-ranked Carthage (7–1) Saturday at Evergreen. For the home team, it marked their second defeat in as many weekends after winning five of their first six.

“We knew they’d be tough,” head coach Marty Perry said. “We played them twice last year and lost both. We haven’t played our best against them. We were looking to rebound from Wisconsin-Whitewater.”

In his first match of the year against a nationally-ranked foe, fourth-year 21st-ranked Ward Bortz fell 6–4, 7–5 to 41st-ranked Carthage third-year Brad Livingston at first singles. The Red picked up wins at second and third behind a pair of second-years. Sixth-regionally-ranked Miguel Yunes and 17th-regionally-ranked Tommy Collins each earned 6–3, 6–3 victories, beating second-year Sasha Deriy and third-year Vivek Venkataraman. It marked the first time all season that Chicago has been swept in the top three singles slots.

At fourth singles, Carthage third-year David Sands cruised to victory over second-year Joseph Tchan in straight sets 6–1, 6–3. First-year Sergio Lopez chipped in for the Red with a 6–4, 6–1 win over first-year Alex Winney at the sixth spot.

Second-year Bharath Sithian provided the Maroons’ lone bright spot in singles with a victory at fifth. After dropping his first set 4–6, Sithian rallied to take the second set 7–5 before securing the win with a 10–8 third set tiebreaker against fourth-year Tres Heimann.

“It was good to see Bharath competing hard to get the win at five,” Perry said.

It was more of the same in doubles, as Carthage took the first two matches with the meet win already clinched. The pairing of Tchan and Sithian earned Chicago’s lone win in the event, beating Heimann and Lopez 8–5 at third doubles. Deriy and Venkataraman fell to Livingston and Yunes 8–5 at the first, while Bortz and Winney dropped an 8–4 decision to Collins and Sands.

“We changed up our doubles and we’ll probably do it again,” Perry said. “We haven’t won the point in doubles all season unless you count Cornell. We are going to just keep searching for the right combos. Last year we weren’t accustomed to this. Hopefully we’ll be playing well for the UAAs.”

The loss was the Maroons’ fourth to Carthage in the last three seasons. The Red have won the matches by a combined score of 24–2. The competition does not get any easier here on in for the Maroons as they take on 13th-ranked DePauw Friday in Greencastle. The Tigers are 3–3 on the season, but two of their losses came to teams ranked among the top six in the country. Although they feature only one nationally-ranked player in 35th-ranked third-year Evan Webeler, DePauw has excellent depth. In a loss to top-ranked Santa Cruz Friday, the Tigers took each of the bottom three singles matches to three sets. DePauw swept Chicago 7–0 in the last meeting between these two teams March 4, 2002.

“DePauw is going to be tough,” Perry said. “They matched up tough against some pretty tough teams last weekend [at the National Indoor Tournament]. We just hope to pick up our intensity and maybe win a few matches. I still feel that we control our own destiny. If we can get our team playing well, if we can finish strong, we can reach our goals.”