Coming into Saturday’s match up against D-I rival Northern Illinois, women’s tennis were undefeated going back to their September 26 match against Olivet Nazarene. Working with the momentum of a 7–2 victory against city rival Chicago State University, the Maroons looked to capture a victory against Northern Illinois.
With the bitter taste of last year’s 7–0 rout, Chicago came into the game ready for a better showing against the D-I squad. Surprising many, the Maroons took the Huskies to the brink before the visitors grabbed a 4–3 victory at Bally’s Hyde Park.
“I think we played extremely well against a very good Division-I team. They added more players so that worried me a bit, but our players really stepped up,” head coach Marty Perry said.
Despite the loss, the Maroons had a lot to feel good about while walking off the court.
Any nerves the Maroons may have had heading into the contest were shaken off by victory in the opening match. Third-year Vindya Dayananda and second-year Marissa Lin built on their doubles win last week, emerging victorious against third-year Lillian Asuaje and fourth-year Brooke Forsberg. Although this was a positive opening statement, the next two matches ended in disappointment.
Putting the Maroons down for the count in consecutive doubles matches, the Huskies took a 2–1 lead heading into singles play as fourth-year Dora Delgadillo and Freidlund put down the duo of third-year Anuja Parikh and rookie Cristina Simpetru by a score of 8–3 at the third doubles slot.
In an attempt to steer the Maroons in the right direction, Lin stepped onto the court. One of the big reasons why Chicago was ranked 19th before the season, Lin took it upon herself to change the fortunes of her squad against third-year Lillian Asuje. Once ranked as high as number two in the Midwest, Lin dominated Asuaje, defeating her in straight sets, 6–2, 7–6. This gave the South Siders a much-needed boost and further solidified Lin as the Maroons’ top player. However, the success didn’t stop there.
Not to be outdone by her doubles partner, Dayananda clubbed her way to a victory over first-year Katie Friendlund. The more experienced veteran gave Friendlund more than she could handle with a win of 6–2, 3–6. 6–3.
Ignoring her youth, first-year Chrissy Hu defeated third-year Nao Umemura. The up-and-comer toughed out a 6–4, 4–6, 6–4 victory, but this would be the last time the Maroons would be victorious as the next three matches all resulted in losses.
“Of all the people who stepped up, I was most proud of Chrissy Hu, who was playing a much more experienced player, played her close and eventually won,” Perry said.
Chicago’s inexperience showed. Although Parikh lasted three sets, second-year Justine Kentla and first-year Cristina Simpetru both fell quickly, with Simpetru losing 6–0, 6–1 at sixth singles in a match that could have clinched a Maroon victory. Despite this, Coach Perry was optimistic about the team’s play in their last three losses.
“Coming back in her first match since having surgery, Anuja definitely had a strong showing pushing her opponent to the limit,” he said. “I also thought that our four and five had a strong showing.”
On the heels of this loss, the Maroons look to rebound against Kalamazoo Saturday.
“We just need to play hard and play well. We’ve been playing pretty well lately and if we keep this up, we’ll be fine throughout the season,” Perry said.