The men on the court finally ran out of gas.
This past weekend, No. 30 Chicago (11–2) lost to No. 29 University of Wisconsin–Whitewater (10–11) by a score of 6–3, snapping the Maroons’ 10-match winning streak. Chicago’s next match, on Saturday against Carroll College, was cancelled due to inclement weather.
This squad hasn’t had such a winning streak in over 15 years, and this was particularly impressive considering the young lineup. Some of the Maroons’ top contributors are first and second-years.
Playing on the No. 1 singles court, second-year Deepak Sabada claimed one of the Maroons’ victories on Saturday, winning 6–3, 6–4. Fellow second-year Ankur Bhargava, playing on the No. 2 court, also picked up a point for Chicago, and the No. 3 doubles team of first-years Jake Crawford and Gordon Zhang also won.
Sabada thinks the Maroons needed to step up their game in clutch situations on Saturday.
“As a team, we felt that we didn’t play our best tennis [during] the important points, which led to us losing some close matches that would have changed the result of the overall match,” Sabada said.
On the other hand, Bhargava attributes this loss to complacency on Chicago’s part.
“I think the reason UW—Whitewater was able to win most of the matches is because of our lack of intensity,” Bhargava said. “Up [until] this match, we had been winning comfortably and did not step up our preparation and work ethic for this match. Whitewater walked onto the court with more energy, which is what allowed them to dominate us. Essentially, they wanted it more.”
Currently on an eight-match singles win streak, Sabada has been playing extremely well this season, and is also helping to lead the team. Head coach Jay Tee says he has “stepped up his game” and filled the No. 1 singles role the team has needed.
Sabada modestly credits his teammates.
“Playing against my teammates in practice every day has prepared me for the level of competition I have faced and has led to my recent success in matches,” he said.
The Maroons look to rekindle the fire and begin another win streak on Wednesday against University of Illinois–Chicago.
Sabada believes the upcoming match will help the Maroons get back on track.
“I think as a team we want to use that match against UIC to get back to winning and to set the tone for the upcoming weekend where we play Wash U and Gustavus Adolphus,” he said.
The DI UIC Flames (5–12) won’t be an easy win, though. They defeated UW–Whitewater 4–3 earlier in the season.
Chicago heads to UIC for their match this Wednesday at 4 p.m.