Doubleheaders are not ideal in college tennis.
Given that dual matches can last over three hours, teams must be both physically and mentally prepared to handle the task. No. 30 Chicago faces this situation on Sunday against Luther and Augustana.
“Last year, doubleheaders were scary for me,” head coach Jay Tee said. “This year, we have the depth to play two teams if we really wanted to and still be successful.”
With talent from top to bottom, Tee does not have a lineup set for Sunday’s matches, and said that fourth-years Zsolt Szabo and Neil Karandikar, second-year Bobby Adusumilli, and first-year Peter Muncey are contending for spots in the doubles lineup.
At the top of the lineup, the Maroons look for wins from No. 1 singles and doubles player, third-year Deepak Sabada. Although he had two singles losses last weekend, Tee said Sabada has a new outlook that will improve his match play.
“At practice, we’ve been focusing on different styles—moving back a little bit, giving his opponents a different look,” Tee said. “I think after he saw those results, he knew himself that he needed to make some improvements in a different area of his game. He knows it, he’s taking initiative, and I think you’re going to see a different player from here on out.”
Sabada’s doubles partner and No. 2 singles player and first-year Sven Kranz has already made a name for himself in his first year on campus. In just months, Kranz, as a singles player, has defeated Iowa’s Matt Hagan, reached the semifinal of the prestigious ITA Central Region Championships, earned the clinching victory for Chicago’s dual win over Denison, and notched the Maroons’ only win against Kenyon.
“He’ll compete for every point,” Tee said. “If we get everybody on the lineup playing the exact same way, where they hate to lose a single point, then our team would be much better off.”
In the same way Tee admires Kranz’s competitive attitude, he does not want anyone—including himself—to overlook an opponent. Last week, because the Maroons were eagerly awaiting their match against No. 5 Kenyon, they barely bested Denison 5–4.
“In the back of our mind, we were looking past Denison a little bit because that Sunday match was so big in our minds,” Tee said. “That’s something we definitely won’t do in the future. It was a good learning lesson for all of us.”
Luther, although unranked, won its first matches of the championship season by a combined score of 25–2. In preparation for Sunday’s match, the Norse will play three opponents on Saturday—a tripleheader (Loras, Grand View, and Wheaton, respectively).
“We’re probably a little deeper than they are, but we always get everyone’s best shot, and for us to go in there and think we’re going to breeze by would be a big mistake on our part,” Tee said.
Meanwhile, Augustana is 3–1 with its lone loss coming to Luther, 7–2.
Both matches will be played at Moline, IL with the Luther match set to start at 11 a.m. and the Augustana match at 3 p.m.