It was a tougher loss than most.
After extending their winning streak to 10 matches by defeating Wash U in the Midwest Invitational final on April 13, the Maroons’ streak was snapped on Saturday by the same team, as they lost to the Bears 5–4 in St. Louis.
“It was a tough loss for everyone because we know we didn’t play to our potential,” head coach Jay Tee said. “As a team, we need to learn how to give a consistent effort every time we play. It’s not enough to have three or four players compete as hard as they can because that still leaves us a point or two short of a win. We need to play better in the big moments. No excuses.”
The Maroons boast one of the best doubles lineups in the country, but on Saturday, Chicago headed into singles action with a 2–1 deficit.
In the Midwest Invitational final, the Maroons had a 2–1 lead after doubles with wins from second-year Megan Tang and first-year Helen Sdvizkhov at No. 1 and fourth-year Linden Li and second-year Kelsey McGillis at No. 2.
Once again, Tang and Sdvizkhov pulled out the win (8–6).
“It was neck and neck basically the whole match,” Tang said. “However, in the last few games to close it out, Helen definitely stepped up her game. She poached a lot of cross-court balls and put away many shots both down the line and at net.”
The No. 2 Chicago tandem also found itself in a familiar situation, tied at 6–6. But, this time, the outcome went in favor of the Bears, 8–6.
“Unlike last week, we played timid and waited for the other team to lose rather than trying to win the match on our terms,” Tee said. “We didn’t rise to the occasion.”
Even though Wash U had momentum on its side heading into singles, Tee said the match was far from over.
“I was disappointed that we weren’t able to take a lead coming out of doubles, but I wasn’t worried,” he said. “I was confident that we’d be able to scrape out four singles wins, especially when Megan Tang has been an automatic point for us.”
And Tang was, once again, an automatic point for the Maroons, defeating Wash U’s Theresa Petraskova 6–1, 6–2 and extending her singles’ winning streak to 13 matches.
Sdvizkhov (6–2, 6–4) and first-year Sruthi Ramaswami (6–3, 7–5) also pulled out straight-set victories at No. 3 and No. 5 singles, respectively.
But, wins over Li (6–2, 6–2) at No. 2 singles, McGillis (7–5, 7–5) at No. 4 singles, and first-year Stephanie Lee (6–2, 7–6 (6)) at No. 6 singles clinched the dual win for the Bears.
“I told the team after the loss that we need some people to step up and lead,” Tee said. “Linden [Li] has been doing a great job as our only senior, but it shouldn’t be up to one person.”
With only one match left in the regular season, the Maroons are focusing on a successful postseason run.
“All of us, including the coaches, need to ask what else we can give to the team in order to be successful,” Tee said. “If we’re going to make a run in the postseason we need to focus our energy and make some adjustments.”
The Maroons play their only match at Stagg Field tennis courts today at 4 p.m. against Wheaton.