Even after graduating four All-Americans, No. 8 Chicago (3–1) has proven itself a top-tier team yet again at this year’s ITA Indoor Nationals.
In the second-most prestigious tournament Chicago attends over the year, the squad managed to distinguish itself by finishing third in a competitive field featuring the No. 7–14 teams in the country.
First-year Tiffany Chen did especially well over the weekend, winning all three of her singles matches.
“The tournament was a great experience and an exciting one especially for the first-years. It was fun competing against teams from across the country, some of which we haven’t faced before,” Chen said.
The team traveled to Greencastle, Indiana, where the No. 13 DePauw Tigers (3–0) hosted seven teams in an elite tournament. The Maroons played the Tigers first on Friday, where they edged the hosts 5–4, with Chicago winning four of six singles matches and one of three doubles.
In the double-elimination tournament, the South Siders advanced to face Carnegie (5–0). Against the No. 9 team, the Maroons lost two of three doubles matches and could not recover, winning only one of their remaining six singles matches. In the consolation bracket the Maroons took on No. 10 Pomona-Pitzer (2–2), who fell to the South Siders 6–3.
“The team’s biggest challenge was probably Carnegie because all of their players were very solid, though I think we were neck and neck with them in all of our matches. I don’t think the scores reflect how close it was,” Chen said.
Because each team was so close in skill, the mental side of the game became especially important as the weekend progressed.
“In our wins against DePauw and Pomona we came out with a much better attitude and energy level. We are starting to learn that those are real things that make a difference and not just clichés that athletes like to use,” head coach Jay Tee said. “Against Carnegie our energy level dropped and we were too focused on winning and losing rather than bringing the intensity and playing to win. Too often in big moments we were waiting for our opponent to make an error rather than playing to win the point.”
Coming in as the No. 2, Chicago finished third, while No. 1 Johns Hopkins managed to win the championship match 8–1 against the No. 3 Carnegie, who took second place at the ITA Nationals.
Next week, the Maroons will take on the DePauw Tigers yet again, and then rest for two weeks before embarking on a spring break road trip to California, where they will take on three of the top five nationally ranked teams over the course of one week.