April 15, 2014

2–1 showing provides last challenge before UAA Championships

Although the Maroons don’t play in Kansas, there was still “no place like home” for No. 12 Chicago this past weekend.

The Maroons ended their weekend play at 2–1, bringing their record to 9–8. With wins over Case (9–9) and Coe (16–5) and a loss to UAA rival Wash U (15–3), Chicago will head into postseason play next weekend.

The South Siders opened the weekend with a hard-fought win over Case. No. 1 doubles duo first-year Tiffany Chen and third-year Megan Tang began the day by winning their opening match against third-year Marianne Bonanno and second-year Sara Zargham. Tang, at No. 1 singles, defeated Bonanno (6–2, 6–0) a second time, while Chen knocked off Zargham in three sets (6–4, 2–6, 6–3) at No. 2 singles.

Third-year Kelsey McGillis came back against second-year Surya Khadilkar in three sets (4–6, 6–4, 7–5) to help the Maroons clinch the win.

“After losing the first set, I knew I could still beat this girl, so I just focused on one point at a time in the second, and the results came with it,” McGillis said. “Although I wasn’t playing my best tennis, I knew we needed as many wins as we could get after getting down 2–1 in doubles, so I fought hard to not let my team down and hopefully make it a little easier for everyone else still on the court. At one point, I was down a match point in the third set, which would have cost us the match, but I played big and offensively to dig myself out, and it worked.”

Between McGillis’s and Chen’s huge wins, the Maroons were able to secure the victory over Case.

Saturday’s match against Coe proved to be an easy day for the South Siders. The Kohawks were not able to recover after dropping all of their doubles matches to begin the day. Tang and Chen continued their dominant campaign, collectively winning five of their last six matches in both in doubles and singles. Doubles partners McGillis and third-year Maggie Schumann won both singles and doubles to help secure a 9–0 sweep.

Sunday saw the Maroons’ weekend success end, as No. 9 Wash U proved to be too much of a challenge. The Bears walked away with an 8–1 win and dominated from beginning to end. Even though Chicago is nationally ranked only three slots lower than Wash U, the Bears held control throughout the entire match.

The Bears swept doubles for the eighth time this season and remain 14–0 when leading after doubles. In contrast, the Maroons have struggled in that area of their game, winning only 11 of their past 36 doubles matches. Tang earned the only win of the day.

“In doubles, I felt that Tiffany and I were neck-and-neck with Wash U. It really came down to who put the ball away faster at the net and who made less errors,” Tang said. “In singles, I kept the mindset of making more balls than my opponent, and that paid off, especially in the second set. As a team, we definitely fought hard. It was simply a matter of who played more aggressively in doubles at the crucial points and who made less errors in singles.”

Both teams will advance to postseason play next weekend in Altamonte Springs, FL.

Heading into the UAA Championship, Chicago knows what it needs to work on to be successful in the postseason.

“We will focus on playing the big points more offensively and cutting down on unforced errors. If we work on these two things, we should do very well in postseason play,” Tang said.

The NCAA Championship opens on Thursday, April 24 in Altamonte Springs, FL.