February 26, 2008

Clutch efforts at top of roster help women's tennis edge Wash U

Anytime Wash U and Chicago go head to head in any sport, it’s likely to be a tough, evenly fought matchup.

This weekend’s women’s tennis showdown was no different, with the Bears taking the Maroons to the limit but falling short of victory in St. Louis Saturday afternoon. The 19th-ranked Maroons (5–3) edged out the 21st-ranked Bears (1–1) by a score of 5–4.

After two losses against Kenyon and Denison last week, the Maroons looked to rebound with a meaningful performance against their regional rivals. As in many contests, the success of the Maroons rested greatly on the shoulders of second-year Marissa Lin and third-year Vindya Dayananda. Neither disappointed her team Saturday, with both scoring key victories in their singles and doubles matches.

The tandem of Lin and Dayananda fought hard to get the Maroons off and running at the outset of the meet, defeating Erin Swaller and Kalee Cassady easily 8–3. Lin and Dayananda proved themselves to be the preeminent players on the squad, getting the Maroons off on the right foot going into this tough showdown.

Not to be outdone by Lin and Dayananda’s win, first-year Chrissy Hu and second-year Justine Kentla took on the freshman combo of Jaclyn Bid and Karina Kocemba. The Chicago combo came through with an 8–2 victory to ensure that doubles supremacy belonged to the Maroons.

For all its success, Chicago wasn’t able to complete the doubles sweep. The duo of second-year Allison Dender and first-year Kristin Fleming shut out third-year Anuja Parikh and second-year Jennifer Walters 8–0.

“I was very happy with our opening,” head coach Marty Perry said. “As a team, we had a good start, we won two out of three doubles. This was especially important, because Wash U has an extremely deep and talented team.”

Entering singles play, Chicago was in good shape, up 2–1 and needing three victories to ensure a win.

In three sets at first singles, Lin topped second-year Erin Swaller by a score of 5–7, 6–4, 6–1. Meanwhile, Dayananda defeated second-year Allison Dender in straight sets 6–2, 6–4. The wins bring both Dayananda’s and Lin’s record to 7–1 in singles competition.

Proving herself to be as clutch as Lin and Dayananda, Hu stepped up, winning in straight sets 6–4, 6–3. Bouncing back from a disappointing performance against Kenyon, Hu clinched the victory for the Maroons.

“I was very proud of the team, we rebounded nicely,” Perry said.

The importance of Hu’s victory became apparent after the Maroons dropped their next three match ups. Second-year Jennifer Walters dropped her match against Bild (6–3, 6–1). Kentla was a victim of a dominating performance by first-year Elise Sambol with a score of 6–0, 6–2. Third-year Anuja Parikh was also defeated in straight sets by first-year Kaylee Cassady (6–4, 6–1).

The Maroons’ top three stepped up, but Perry is looking from key contributions from the fourth, fifth, and sixth tiers of his team.

“We need to continue to play strong in doubles, and hopefully this win will bring about more confidence and a better attitude in the next few weeks.” Perry said.

The Maroons now look to build on this momentum March 8 at Carthage.