January 22, 2015

Rookies propel team to No.17 preseason ranking

This evening the Maroons will face DePaul University at the Lakeshore Club in their opening competition of the season.

Chicago enters the season ranked 17th overall among Division III schools. Division I DePaul, while unranked, poses fierce competition for the Maroons and will prepare the squad for the competition heading Chicago’s way in the upcoming weeks. The South Siders will face four ranked schools in a row in the coming month.

The Maroons ended the autumn preseason on a good note at the United States Tennis Association/ Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Small College Championships. First-year Nicolas Chua captured the singles title while fourth-year Deepak Sabada paired off with first-year David Liu to finish fourth in doubles. Chua reflected on his first experiences with college competition.

“I think the most important thing I’ve taken away from preseason is the confidence that I can play and beat anyone in the country,” Chua said. “It may not seem like much, but stepping on the court with that kind of belief is important mentally.”

Chua also mentioned the time management skills he has had to develop quickly as an important step to transitioning to the college level.  However, his fellow first year Liu focused more on some of his on-the-court adjustments.

“It has been an honor to play alongside a player as experienced as Deepak [Sabada],” said Liu of the role Sabada has played in his early athletic collegiate development.

“College tennis is much faster and much more physical than the juniors, so playing with him showed me what I had to do to reach that level.”

Sabada has high hopes for this year’s team, having already seen early on the potential of some of the new additions and knowing what his other teammates are capable of. In assessing the team’s overall ability, Sabada is optimistic.

“I think this is the best team we have had in my four years here, and I’m looking forward to having the best season the school has had in recent years,” Sabada said. “I think we are all looking to qualify for NCAAs and then we will take it from there.”

Fourth-year Ankur Bhargava was also highly positive when comparing this Chicago team to those of years past.

“During offseason, the team did a phenomenal job keeping up with hitting and lifting—the team looks the best they have in my four years regarding fitness and sharpness,” saidBhargava on the team’s health and fitness going into the season.

“I’m hoping to make the NCAA tournament as a team and hopefully win the UAA. These are both very difficult tasks, but I believe with the team and leadership we have this year, that is very plausible.”

“For this Friday, as always, doubles will be key in determining who wins the match,” said Sabada on what the team needs to do out of the gate to work on achieving their lofty goals.

“Since this is the first match of the season, we need to be extremely focused right from the beginning to avoid making errors and falling behind early.”

The Maroons face off against DePaul tonight at 7:15 p.m.