April 21, 2014

UAA Championship beckons for ranked South Siders

[caption id="attachment_114703" align="alignnone" width="300"][media-credit name="Courtesy of UChicago Athletics" align="alignnone" width="300"][/media-credit] First-year Brian Sun prepares to return the ball during practice earlier this school year.[/caption]It has been one of the most successful seasons in recent memory for the Maroons, one that has included a victory over No. 18 Cal Lutheran, the emergence of first-year budding star Sven Kranz, a winning record of 9–8, and a national ranking of No. 17 at the regular season’s end.

However, while each of these outstanding achievements could define a successful season in its own right, the South Siders are not complacent with their season, as they prepare to venture to this week’s UAA Championships in Altamonte Springs, FL and look to add a few more achievements to their already impressive season.

The Maroons begin their conference tournament campaign this Thursday against Case Western (14–5). The Spartans, a familiar foe to Chicago, dispatched the South Siders earlier this season by way of a 7–2 outcome. While this history would cause concern for most teams, the Maroons remain unfazed by their recent defeat and look forward to this matchup with anticipation, excitement, and poise.

“We learned a lot from our earlier match and are looking forward to playing them again at the UAA tournament. We look forward to applying the lessons learned from this season at the UAA Championships,” said third-year Deepak Sabada (No. 1 singles).

As the fifth seed of eight teams, the road to the tournament championship does not get any easier for the Maroons if they are able to take care of business against the fourth-seeded Spartans. Following a victory against Case, the Maroons would move on to the tournament semifinal for a likely matchup against No. 1 seed Wash U, who heads into the tournament ranked No. 2 nationally along with an impressive 16–2 record. Those Bears took down the Maroons this season by a score of 6–3. If Chicago also beats Wash U, it would advance to Saturday’s championship round and likely face second-seeded Emory (14–5) or alternatively third-seeded Carnegie (15–5).

Chicago’s match against Wash U took place just over a week ago and is still fresh on the Maroons’ minds.

“Hopefully, we can use [the Wash U match] as fuel for the UAA Championships next week in Florida and make some noise there,” said third-year Ankur Bhargava, who played No. 3 doubles during the last two matches. He has also competed on multiple singles courts.

With such a daunting task in front of them, the South Siders must play their best tennis of the season if they hope to place well. This will require the efforts of seasoned veterans Sabada and fourth-year Krishna Ravella (No. 2 doubles) in doubles, along with the talents of Kranz and fellow first-year Brian Sun (No. 3 singles).

The UAA Championships kick off at 8 a.m. in Altamonte Springs on Thursday.