April 18, 2014

No. 17 squad makes statement by thumping Thunder

With an 8–1 win over Wheaton, the Maroons left their rival thunderstruck.

No. 17 Chicago (9–8) went into the match against the Thunder knowing they were facing a team on a hot streak. Wheaton (15-3) had won five games in a row before they encountered the Maroons.

Chicago swept all three doubles matches to set the tone for the rest of the day. No. 1 doubles duo third-year Deepak Sabada and first-year Sven Kranz earned a win over fourth-year Ryan Kreis and third-year Josh Ward 9–7, while fourth-year Krishna Ravella and first-year Max Hawkins defeated the pair of first-years Justin Ancona and Matt Steiner 8–6 at No. 2 doubles.

Sabada and Kranz’s win was vital for Chicago.

“I was glad we could pull out the victory in doubles against the No. 5 team in the region after being down 4–7 and a match point,” Kranz said.

“Doubles today was close,” Ravella said. “The match started with no breaks of serve even though Max and I were returning well. We just took care of our own service games and waited for the right moment on a return game, and that moment came towards the end of the match. We played well and getting the doubles sweep gave us a lot of momentum heading into singles.”

Third-year Ankur Bhargava and second-year Gordon Zhang rounded out the hat trick with a decisive win over third-year Derek Mumaw and fourth-year David Buursma 8–3 at No. 3.

Singles play followed a similar trend for the Maroons.

Chicago won five of its six singles matches, with Sabada, Kranz, Hawkins, Zhang, and Ravella all adding to their doubles wins. Ward picked up Wheaton’s only victory in the No. 3 spot, defeating first-year Brian Sun, 6–3, 6–3.

Kranz strained the ligaments surrounding his big toe during his spring break match against Cal Lutheran, but showed no signs of discomfort, winning his No. 2 singles match in straight sets, 6–1, 6–2.

“Singles was a pretty good win for myself,” Kranz said. “I am glad everything worked, and I didn’t feel hindered by my injury which is always a positive.”

The win will feel especially sweet for the Maroons with UAAs now less than a week away. Although Wheaton entered the match with a significantly better record than Chicago, the Maroons’ strength of schedule showed through.

“This season we have faced a lot of opponents ranked in the top-30 in the country,” Ravella said. “It meant that we had to be ready for competitive matches every single weekend. Having a difficult schedule has definitely been a positive for us; we can rely on a lot of competitive match experience heading into UAAs where nearly every team we play will be ranked nationally.”

The UAA Championships begin on Wednesday in Altamonte Springs, FL.