May 18, 2012

In Elite Eight, Chicago looks to ground Blue Jays

Jamie Manley / The Chicago Maroon

Chicago looks to extend its national tournament run on Monday with a win over Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinal in Cary, NC. Monday’s match will mark the fourth straight quarterfinal appearance for the Maroons.

“Johns Hopkins is a very strong team,” first-year Megan Tang said. “They have a full lineup with a lot of high-level players, and they should not be taken lightly. If we want to beat them, we will all need to play to the best of our ability.”

Although Chicago beat Johns Hopkins, 6–3, on March 3 at the ITA Indoor Championships, lineup and mentality changes have since affected both teams.

In their last meeting, Johns Hopkins was 0–2 on the season and sat out their regular No. 3 singles player, Nandita Krishnan, a junior.

The Maroons were without No. 1 singles and doubles player, fourth-year Kendra Higgins. Because of her absence, fourth-years Carmen VacaGuzman and Jennifer Kung played No. 1 doubles, first-years Kelsey McGillis and Megan Tang moved up to No. 2 doubles, and third-year Linden Li played No. 3 doubles with first-year Maggie Schumann.

With Higgins back in the lineup, Tang said she hopes the Maroons win by a large margin.

“Hopefully, with the addition of Kendra this time around, we will be able to sweep Johns Hopkins,” she said. “However, anything can happen, so we will need to be on our toes.”

Even with Higgins back, Kung said she thinks Johns Hopkins will come out strong.

“I’m expecting Hopkins to put up a good fight,” the co-captain said. “We had a few close matches last time in singles, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if that happened again.”

The Maroons swept doubles in their last meeting with the Blue Jays and look to gain early momentum by doing so again.

“If we can come out strong in doubles like we’ve been doing at UAAs and regionals, then we’ll be in a great position to make our fourth straight final four appearance,” Kung said.

Aside from the talent the Maroons possess, Chicago looks toward its high energy and spirit to gain confidence.

“Showing a lot [of] team spirit is very important, and we’ve been stressing it during practice,” Kung said. “It shows that we’re united and that everyone is supportive of each other. I also think that being loud and cheering for each other not only helps us feel more confident, but can also be intimidating to other teams, especially during doubles.”

For the first-years, this match will help develop their playing ability in a high-intensity environment.

“Personally, I am very excited for this match. I enjoy playing high-ranked teams, because it pushes me to play to my highest level,” Tang said. “The fact that this match could bring my team one step closer to a national title does make it one of the most important matches of my college tennis career.”

Doubles is scheduled to start at noon on Monday.