April 18, 2008

Women’s tennis rallies without Lin but falls to Wheaton

Strong individual performances for women’s tennis culminated in a victory at first singles, but the solo triumphs of the day weren’t enough to carry Chicago out of its recent slump.

Third-year Vindya Dayananda upset a two-time All-American, third-year Jordan Hook, in singles competition Tuesday, but her superb play was not enough to give the squad a much-needed win going into UAAs. Instead the Maroons wrapped up regular season play with a close but disappointing 5–4 loss.

The defeat came in light of last week’s disheartening road trip to Wisconsin. Despite staying competitive with the 22nd-ranked Wheaton (19–5), the 30th-ranked Maroons (9–7) failed to come up with a win.

The end results of Tuesday’s contest coincided with expectations of a battle on paper. However, cold statistics will hide the merits of a tight game by a Chicago team handicapped by injuries. Second-year Marissa Lin, who usually occupies the number one slot in singles and shares the court with Dayananda at first doubles, was absent from the lineup due to an injury incurred in last week’s play against Wash U.

“We did really well considering we were essentially playing a man down,” Dayananda said of her team’s performance. “It was really close, though, and it feels like we were just one step away from winning.”

Lin had to sit out from the final home match, but head coach Marty Perry expects her to be back on the court and ready to go for the UAAs in St. Louis on Friday.

Leading off the day in doubles play, third-year Anuja Parikh stepped up to fill Lin’s place in the number one slot. However, solid play by Parikh with Dayananda was not enough to garner a win over Wheaton’s first slot tandem of Hook and first-year Sara Federschmidt.

Parikh and Dayananda fell 8–5, while the Maroons split their other two matches in the doubles competition with a win and a loss. First-years Cristina Simpetru and Elena Stratigakes won an 8–2 decision at the third slot, but first-year Crissy Hu and second-year Justine Kentla’s 8–3 loss in the second slot gave the Thunder a 2–1 advantage going into singles competition.

The Maroons rebounded quickly moving into solos, much to the surprise of Wheaton. Dayananda, who usually occupies the second slot, played up a spot for the absent Lin, pitting her against Hook, the number top–ranked player in the region in one-on-one match play.

“Going into the match I knew she had a great ranking and an outstanding record on the season,” Dayananda said of Hook, “But I went in with the mindset to keep her moving, give her as many balls as possible, and try to take advantage of any mistakes on her part.”

It paid off. After struggling in the first set with a 3–6 decision, Dayananda traded blow for blow with Hook in a long second set that culminated in a close tiebreaker that landed in favor of Dayananda with a 7–6 (13–11) decision. In the third set, she continued her success, picking up a 6–2 decision and a huge upset over Hook.

“Vindya’s win over Jordan Hook was probably the biggest win in recent program history. She worked hard preparing the week before knowing that Marissa would not be ready to play due to her knee injury…. She played with a lot of heart and determination,” Perry commented.

Success for the Maroons continued in the second and third slots. Hu, at second, eased by with a 6–3, 6–2 win. Kentla, at third, continued the trend with a 6–3, 6–4 decision, giving the Maroons a 4–2 advantage and the chance to clinch a comeback victory after falling behind in doubles. All they needed was one more win.

The clincher would not come. Parikh, occupying the fourth slot, came close to bringing a win home for the Maroons. She split her first two sets against Federschmidt 7–5, 4–6, but couldn’t eclipse her opponent in the third set, falling 6–2. Sadly, that was the closest the Maroons would come to pulling out a victory over Wheaton.

Simpetru and second-year Jennifer Walters, at the fifth and sixth slots, respectively, both fell within their first two sets, ending the Maroons’ regular season with a 9–7 record. A respectable mark, but disappointing for a team previously ranked 19th in the nation and with lofty expectations coming into the season. The Maroons will look end their three-game losing streak at the UAA tournament this week.