Chicago travels to Kalamazoo this weekend with the hopes of hitting the ground running after spring break competition in California. This seems likely, based on the team’s morale.
“The guys are heading into the remainder of our season with a ton of confidence and motivation,” head coach Jay Tee said.
Even before the trip, though, the team was hungry for competition.
“We got out there and were more fired up than ever,” first-year Peter Muncey said.
The squad had a disappointing loss as it began its first match of the trip, falling 8–1 to No. 13 Pomona-Pitzer. Even with this overall loss, the team gained one win, as first-year Brian Sun was able to conquer his opponent 6–0, 6–2 at No. 4 singles.
This only served to inspire Chicago, as the members of the team put aside their disappointments and readied themselves for their match against California Lutheran University.
“That [loss] was frustrating, and I’d be lying if I said we weren’t pissed off,” Muncey said. “But rather than complain about how they have the courts and the climate, we pushed those excuses aside and decided together that our next match against No. 20 Cal Lutheran was ours.”
Going into the match, the squad was able to predict its own success.
“Our team chant is usually ‘1…2…3… Fight!’ But something about that day was different. Our captain [fourth-year Krishna Ravella] told us today it would be ‘win’ on three. And that’s what we did,” Muncey said.
The team fought its way to a 5–4 victory, improving its record to 6–5 in monumental fashion.
“[This was] our first win over a top-20 program in nearly three years,” Tee said.
After this exciting win, the Maroons were not able to continue their success and fell to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) 6–3. This match could’ve proved discouraging for Chicago, but instead, it was motivating.
“We then lost 3–6 to UCSD, a top-10 team in DII. But discouraged was the last thing we were,” Muncey said. “After four days of being able to play as much as top teams, we were competing at their level. And we still weren’t satisfied—we were hungry for more.”
The team intends to use this hunger as it continues with its preparation for its match against Kalamazoo, improving on those aspects that were lacking in matches over spring break.
“We know that we need to get better at doubles and to improve our fitness, so that’s an area we’re attacking right now,” Tee said. “We know that if we are able to take a 2–1 or 3–0 lead into singles, we are a very, very tough team to beat, especially if our stamina is there. Now that the guys have tasted some success, I think they’re buying in even more because they see their hard work paying off.”
Head coach Tee also spoke of the importance of preparation to continue as a strongly united team.
“We will need all 14 players on the roster to come to practice every day with the right mindset if we hope to improve our results and move further up the rankings,” Tee said.
Muncey had similar sentiments.
“As a team, we are looking to improve how well we fight, finish high-pressure points, and enjoy the game we love,” Muncey said.
What both agreed on most, though, was the overall goal to make it to the NCAA tournament once again.
“It’s going to take a great effort, but if we continue to work hard and believe in our abilities, we will give ourselves a chance,” Tee said.
Chicago takes its confidence to the courts at Kalamazoo at 1 p.m. on Sunday.