After capturing the first ITA Regional Championship in school history two weeks ago, the trio of fourth-year Deepak Sabada, first-year David Liu, and first-year Nicolas Chua made the trek to the ITA National Championships in Sumter, South Carolina yesterday morning in order to continue rewriting the Chicago record books.
“I think we all just want to go out there and play to the best of our ability, compete hard, and see how it goes from there,” Sabada said.
On the singles side, the Maroons’ lone representative, Chua, started out with the toughest possible draw, as he was pitted against the tournament’s No. 1 seed, Alex Ruderman of Emory. While an appearance and good effort at the ITA Championships—also known as the National Small College Championships—would have been satisfactory for anyone, Chua had no interest in being only adequate.
While the underdog, Chua was able to take the first set from Ruderman by a final set score of 7–6. In the second set, Chua jumped out to a commanding 5–2 lead before slipping up and allowing Ruderman to roar back and knot things up at 5–5. Just as it looked like Chua was losing control of the situation, he regained his composure and finished off Ruderman in the second set by a score of 7–5. For his efforts, Chua advances to the semifinals—happening this morning—to take on Steven Chen of Wesleyan.
While Chua’s freshman foray has been the center of talk for parts of the season, he is not the only South Sider in Sumter this weekend. Chua is joined by the doubles team of Sabada and Liu. Sabada, as the elder statesman of the team, is able to recognize the level of competition that the Maroons face this weekend.
“Everyone at this level is good, so we just need to be extra focused and compete hard for every point,” Sabada said.
While Sabada and Liu definitely had an entrée of tough competition on their plate, they were able to replicate the success of Chua as the pair were able to drop Christopher Ellis and Pierre Plance of Bates College in straight sets by a score of 7–6, 7–5. For the Maroons, the atmosphere of their win, and the tournament as a whole, was an entirely different level than what they are accustomed to.
“It definitely creates a great atmosphere during the matches as opposed to being there on your own,” said Sabada.
Today, all three of the Maroons, Liu, Sabada, and Chua, will take part in semifinal play as Chua faces off against his Wesleyan opponent in the morning, while Sabada and Liu take the court in the afternoon. If any of the South Siders win, they will advance to the Finals of the ITA National Championships tomorrow morning.