Sometimes, easy wins are just what a team needs.
After losing to No. 5 Kenyon on February 9, the No. 30 Maroons (3–1) came out with a vengeance on Sunday, defeating both Luther and Augustana 9–0.
“It was a positive for sure, but we were supposed to do that,” head coach Jay Tee said. “If we look at that result as something more than what it was supposed to be, we’re going to get caught next week.”
The Maroons won every singles match in straight sets on the day and lost no more than five games in any given doubles match.
For the first time, first-year Sven Kranz replaced third-year Deepak Sabada at the coveted No. 1 singles spot. He blasted through his opponents 6–2, 6–1 and 6–0, 6–1.
“He looked like a number one, and he acted like a number one and did what he was supposed to do for our team and for himself,” Tee said.
Considering the historical success of Sabada, who won his lone singles match 6–4, 6–4 against Luther, the top of the Maroons’ singles lineup is in formidable shape.
“We have a luxury that Deepak is also a top-10 player in the country, and now he’s playing two,” Tee said. “We can switch those up if we need to, but right now, we’ll play the hot hand at one, whoever that might be.”
Sabada and Kranz were also unstoppable at No. 1 doubles. The duo took a pair of wins 8–3 and 8–5.
Even without first-year Brian Sun playing, Chicago used a traditional lineup to defeat Luther, but against Augustana, knowing that Sabada and third-year Ankur Bhargava are battling ongoing injuries, Tee penciled in a plethora of underclassmen.
“It was good for us to work on different combinations and see different people because we’re going to need different people to step up in a couple weeks,” Tee said.
At No. 3 doubles, second-years Gordon Zhang and William Leddy allowed their opponents to win two games. The No. 2 tandem of fourth-year Zsolt Szabo and first-year Max Hawkins decisively won 8–4.
Aside from Szabo, the singles lineup included only first- and second-years.
Hawkins, Zhang, first-year Peter Muncey, and second-year Bobby Adusumilli took wins at No. 2, 4, 5, and 6 singles, respectively.
Tee was especially pleased with the fight Zhang showed after having lost matches against Denison and Kenyon.
“Gordon [Zhang] really, really rebounded well after a performance he probably isn’t happy with the week before,” Tee said. “He came out and played like he’s been playing all year, which was good to see again.”
The Maroons will practice this week in preparation for their match against UIC on Saturday. While the Flames are a DI team, Chicago extinguished them 5–2 when the two teams last met in 2012.
“We want this match,” Tee said. “We want to be one of the best teams in Chicago, no matter our division. It’s an opportunity to show ourselves and our talent against a good team.”
Editor’s Note: William Leddy is a Maroon Viewpoints editor.