April 4, 2006

Women’s tennis aces road test, drops Bears

Sometimes all the pieces just come together and wins seem to come effortlessly. Women’s tennis continued its hot streak with a pair of impressive wins.

After dropping their first three matches of the season, the now 19th-ranked Maroons (12–4) have gone on a 10–3 tear in February and March, including four shutouts last month. With no signs of a letdown here in April, the squad extended their winning streak to 12 of their last 13 with a solid 8–1 lashing of Coe (13–9) Saturday followed by a 5–0 knock-out of 13th-ranked Wash U (8–5) Sunday. Tandems for Chicago sported a perfect 6–0 mark on the weekend with first-years Anuja Parikh and Alice Williams each snagging a pair of singles matches.

“Our team is just so strong competitively, and we have it in our hearts to always give it our all on the courts,” third-year Ade Omodele-Lucien said.

Although both sides sported nationally ranked athletes, the Maroons made quick work of the Kohawks Saturday. In second singles, 22nd-ranked Omodele-Lucien defeated first-year Rachel Lenoch 6–3, 6–2. Chicago received straight-set victories from Parikh, Williams, fourth-year Annie Miller, and first-year Preetha Rajamani. The eighth-ranked first-year Vindya Dayananda suffered the only loss of the day for Chicago. After capturing the first set 6–4 against 12th-ranked first-year Molly Fiala, Dayananda let the next two slip away 7–6, 10–2.

The momentum from doubles carried over into a stellar singles performance. In first, the 12th-ranked duo of Dayananda and Omodele-Lucien grabbed an easy 8–3 victory over 10th-ranked Fiala and Lenoch. In the second doubles, Parikh and Williams combined for an 8–6 win against third-year Lindsey Driscoll and fourth-year Ashley Hubler. Last but not least, Miller and Rajamani cruised to an 8–1 put out of first-years Susan Gilmer and Chelsea Hinderks.

“I felt like we all combined our energies and just zoned,” Omodele-Lucien said. Sunday saw the Maroons pick up even more steam in their face off against the Bears. Hoping for a repeat of their Saturday doubles performances, Chicago looked to the same tandems to kick off the match.

The team-leading partners Dayananda and Omodele-Lucien continued to be unstoppable, edging out a 9–8 victory to improve their mark together to 17–4 and extend their winning streak to nine. In second, Parikh and Williams held on for a 9–8 victory. The duo has nine wins in their last 10 matches. Miller and Rajamani chipped in with a 9–8 squeeker in third, to improve their record to 12–4 on the year. The Maroons have posted a 51–22 record in doubles play this season after going 37–27 in that category for the 2004–2005 campaign.

With the sweep of doubles play in their pockets, the Maroons needed only two singles matches to secure the victory that would give them a perfect weekend stand. Parikh and Williams stepped up to provide the final punch in Chicago’s triumph. In third, Parikh snatched one from second-year Ashley Cook 6–4, 6–3 while Williams blew out first-year Ania Tchergueiko 6–1, 6–0.

“Alice was right next to me, and her intensity was the highest that I’d ever seen it,” Omodele-Lucien said. “Just no hesitation.”

The Maroons travel to Madison to take part in the Midwest Invite this Friday and Saturday in their last competition before the UAA Championships held in Atlanta at the end of the month. Last year, Chicago ended with a 2–3 showing in league contests. Their 4–3 play against nationally ranked competition and a 9–3 record in regional matches compared to last season’s 0–1 and 5–4 outings sets them up for a good run in the post season.

“We know how to play, win, and have fun, and that is what we plan to do,” Omodele-Lucien said.