SPORTS

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October 18, 2021

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6:56 p.m.

Maroons Secure Silver at the ITA Cup

Three members of the University of Chicago women's tennis team flew to Georgia last week to compete in the 2021 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Cup. The four-day event would be a memorable one for all players involved; first-years Sylwia Mikos and Shianna Guo impressed with a second-place finish in doubles play, and Mikos and fellow first-year Miranda Yuan registered solid singles performances.  

The ITA Cup is held annually in Rome, Georgia, a city of about 36,940 people. The tournament features the winners and runners-up from various NCAA Division II, III, NAIA, and Junior College tournaments across America, where each division has its own separate singles and doubles brackets in the cup. The ITA is a large institution; it handles tournaments and activities that involve over 1,200 schools and 19,500 student athletes. The cup itself features 103 different schools and 283 student-athletes

The tournament began on Thursday, October 14, with the University of Chicago players getting off to a rough start. In the Division III singles bracket, Miranda Yuan dropped her first two matches, losing 7-5, 6-2 to Gabi Moss of Washington & Lee University and 6-3, 6-2 to Crystal Zhou of Carnegie Mellon University. Sylwia Mikos, who had been ranked as the No. 4 seed in the bracket, also lost her first match to Angie Zhou of Pomona-Pitzer, 6-3, 6-2, but rebounded in the consolation bracket to beat third-year Sabrina Tang of Grinnell College, 6-0, 6-3. 

That same day, Mikos and Shianna Guo competed together in the doubles tournament. The pair dispatched the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, to advance to the next round. 

Head Coach Jay Tee said at the end of the day that he was especially happy with this last match. “It was great to get a doubles win against CMS to end the day because it gives everyone confidence heading into the second day and allows us to relax a bit,” he said during the Athletics Department’s presser. "We had a tough start to the day—which was somewhat expected with a group playing in their first national event—but once they found their footing and started to believe they belonged, they played much better." 

The next day, Yuan won her consolation match against Jamilah Karah of Bowdoin College and Mikos lost a hard-fought game with Kristal Dule of North Carolina Wesleyan College. Again, though, the real story came from UChicago’s doubles play: Mikos and Guo won two matches in the space of six hours to advance to the cup finals. The pair saw off the Pomona-Pitzer team easily, winning 6-1, 6-3, but their semifinal opponents from Wesleyan University proved a lot tougher; the Maroons dropped their first set and saw the next two go to tiebreaker rounds. Cast into a critical moment, Mikos and Guo delivered, winning both tiebreakers to take home a famous 4-6, 7-6, 10-7 victory. 

The final was played in sunny, chilly weather midday on Saturday. Mikos and Guo’s competition was an NYU team also made up of two first-years: New York native Dakota Fordham and Estonian Carol Plakk. It was a hard-fought match; again two of the sets were decided by tiebreaker rounds. In the end, NYU edged it, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3. “They were definitely a good team,” Guo said of NYU after the match. “I feel like the mix of the people we played…and how we were feeling during the match made it tougher. There was a lot of nervousness.” 

Though the Maroons settled for silver, the three of them can hold their heads high. They held their own against competition from all over the country and went home with two medals to show for it. “I feel like every tournament we go to, we’re learning more about each other and growing as a team,” Mikos said.