April 15, 2008

Inclement weather keeps men's tennis idle another week

Mother Nature just extended the time off from the court for men’s tennis. The match scheduled at Wheaton on Friday was canceled due to inclement weather.

This weekend’s contest would have been the first for the Maroons since their return from South Carolina over spring break. During that stretch, the team went 2–2, moving to 10–6 on the season. Right before the squad’s swing through Charleston and Hilton Head, it received a 16th-place national ranking by the ITA polls on March 20.

The trip opened with a 7–0 loss to Citadel (15–10), the last D-I opponent for the South Siders this season. The Maroons have faced four D-I schools in 2007–2008, going 1–3 in the effort with their only win coming in a 6–3 decision over Chicago State in their second match of the year.

Bookending the spring break trip, the Maroons notched an 8–1 win over Carleton (15–2) to return to Hyde Park on a high note and ready to wrap up the season. After their homecoming, they faced a two-week stretch of inaction between taking on Carleton and the Thunder (5–1). The squad will have gone three weeks between matches before hosting Lake Forest (15–3) tomorrow.

Keeping in shape has required the Maroons to think a little outside the box for training when cold weather kept them off the court. Games of ultimate frisbee on the football field and rounds of Dance Dance Revolution to work on footwork substituted for more traditional practices.

Between training and hosting Lake Forest and Olivet Nazarene, Chicago should be close to match-ready when it heads back down south to Atlanta for UAAs April 25–27. Conferences promise to be a tough battle, with three of the Maroons’ league foes also boasting national rankings.

Wash U (11–3) tops the list at third, and the host Eagles (11–6) are a short step behind the Bears at fourth. Carnegie Mellon (16–6) rounds out the standings at the 13th spot. With this kind of competition waiting for them, improving on last year’s bronze finish would be a tall order for the Maroons even without losing the game experience this month.

The biggest problem for Chicago, however, is for individuals to make up for the matches. Singles and doubles go to NCAAs based on regional rankings, with solos needing to crack the top eight and partners needing a place among the top four.

Both first-year Will Zhang and the combo of second-years Steve Saltarelli and Garret Brinker are close to the national cut, and wins against a strong Wheaton squad could’ve given them all a boost. With the season winding down, it doesn’t look like the Maroons will reschedule the rumble with the Thunder and instead will focus on the opponents left.