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April 19, 2013

Maroons play through Thunder at Stagg

The Maroons put an exclamation point on what has been a stellar regular season.

No. 7 Chicago (14–4) blew out Wheaton (13–4) 7–0 in a home match at the Stagg Field tennis courts on Tuesday. The win capped off Chicago’s final match before the UAA Championships on April 26–28.

“It was important for us to play [well] against Wheaton so we could carry some positive momentum into the next week of practice,” head coach Jay Tee said. “It also allowed us to pinpoint a couple areas that we would like to improve over the next 10 days.”

The Maroons outscored the Thunder 24–2 in doubles and also recorded an 8–0 shutout from the No. 3 pair of first-year Sruthi Ramaswami and second-year Maggie Schumann. However, Tee still sees room for improvement in doubles.

“We’re still trying to get into the mindset of the aggressors in doubles,” Tee said. “We’ve been working on ending the point in five shots or less, which means crossing and putting more pressure on our opponents by hitting through the ball and gaining the offensive advantage when we get the chance.”

However, the tandem of Ramaswami and Schumann has not yet been penciled in for postseason play. First-year Stephanie Lee has shared time in the No. 3 spot.

“Stephanie has been playing well, but [Schumann] has been playing great in practice, and we wanted to give her a shot against Wheaton,” Tee said. “Both [Lee] and [Schumann] are key parts to our team, and I’m confident in both of them.”

Singles was almost a mirror image of doubles. No. 4 second-year Kelsey McGillis out-powered and out-hustled Marissa Shults for a 6–0, 6–0 victory in less than one hour.

“It had been awhile for me since I have [won 6–0, 6–0], so I feel a lot better about my game both mentally and physically for [the UAA Championships],” McGillis said.

Second-year Megan Tang, who has held the top singles spot in the lineup for the entire year, extended her winning streak to 14 games with a double bagel of her own shortly after McGillis’s win.

The final two matches to finish before the match was called on account of rain were first-year Helen Sdvizkhov at No. 3 (6–2, 6–0) and Ramaswami at No. 5 (6–1, 6–1).

“Sruthi Ramaswami has improved by leaps and bounds from the fall to now,” Tee said. “I remember telling her after her loss at the ITA tournament in October that she needed to get out of her comfort zone and play with more passion and energy, and she’s done that, and it’s paid off for her and the team. She’s slowly emerging as a leader with her play and her attitude.”

Tee has also been impressed with his other newcomers, Sdvizkhov and Lee.

“Helen Sdvizkhov and Stephanie Lee have also stepped in and contributed as first-years, winning several key matches and learning how to compete with the tools they already have,” he said.

Though they have experienced many changes this year with a new coaching staff and a young lineup, the Maroons have fought their way to become one of the best teams in the nation. But Chicago is not satisfied yet, and Tee said more work needs to be done in order to have a successful postseason run.

“The bar has been set very high for Chicago tennis,” he said. “And we’re going to have to work even harder as a team if we want to get back to the NCAA Championship match.”

For now, the Maroons focus on UAA Championships, which take place in one week in Orlando, Florida.

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