After their matches against UIC (6–14) and Carthage (9–8) were rained out on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively, the No. 29 Maroons (12–4) were finally able to play yesterday. The rest proved beneficial, seeing as Chicago dominated Wheaton (12–4), winning by a score of 7–2.
In rare fashion, the Maroons’ No. 1 singles player, second-year Deepak Sabada, lost, while all five other singles players snatched victories for Chicago. Until the match against No. 14 Wash U on April 13, when he lost to the region’s top player, Adam Putterman, Sabada had won eight straight singles matches. Although he was unable to start his streak over again yesterday, the rest of the bunch picked up the slack for the visiting Maroons.
In addition to the five singles wins, doubles courts No. 2 (second-year Ankur Bhargava and third-year Neil Karandikar) and No. 3 (first-years Jake Crawford and Gordon Zhang) also came out victorious.
Among the singles victors was third-year Alex Golovin, playing on the No. 3 court.
“We played pretty well overall,” Golovin said. “The No. 1 matches were really tough matchups for our No. 1 singles and doubles players.”
With the regular season now over, Chicago can look toward this weekend’s UAA Championship in Orlando, FL.
“One of our goals for the UAAs is to play more like a team. We did a really nice job of that during the point in our season when we won 10 matches in a row,” Golovin said.
Golovin is referring to the stretch from February 16 to March 28, in which the Maroons went unbeaten. After those 10 matches, though, they dropped their next three.
“We got out of the habit and played individual tennis, which caused us to come out a little flat, and we didn’t have enough energy at times. It has prevented us from playing our best tennis,” Golovin said.
Yesterday was their first time back on the courts since those three matches, so the break from competing over the past week allowed the Maroons to get their heads on straight again.
“[Like yesterday,] we all need to play well as a team at the same time,” Golovin said.
According to Golovin, rallying around teammates will be key in the coming week and will allow the South Siders to all play with the same intensity when they head to Orlando, FL to compete in the UAAs this Friday.
This season, head coach Jay Tee has given lots of praise to Sabada, who carried Chicago through its winning streak. As long as he brings his A-game, which shouldn’t be a problem for the No. 4 player in the region, the Maroons should be able to perform well in Orlando.
No matter how together this team feels at the conference championship, their jobs will all become a little easier if Sabada can get them off to a winning start. Ultimately, though, if the South Siders are going to be victorious in Florida, they will need the whole team firing on all cylinders.
This will be a vital week of practice for Chicago as they prepare and hope to carry their teamwork and energy to the sunshine state.