While it would be incorrect to claim that the Maroons are a squad of veterans, the men proved this weekend that this does not correlate to a lack of maturity.
First-year Nick Chua said, “Obviously we weren’t playing our top rivals this weekend, but we know that no school is going to give us matches for free. For many of them, a win against us would be huge.”
No. 17 Chicago took on their only unranked opponents of the year, and while an immature team may have been prone to playing down to the level of their opponent, the young team, consisting of four rookies consistently in the starting line-up, came away with an egg in the loss column and a bushels of wins under their belt.
Wheaton and Oberlin sought to challenge the Maroons on their own turf and went home with their tails between their legs and nine losses on their record.
The South Siders first hosted Oberlin in their home indoor court, XS Tennis in Hyde Park. The Yeomen did not stand a chance against the hard-hitting Maroons.
“We went into this weekend looking to squash any hope that they had. We knew we could take every match if we played well, and we executed well to do that,” said Chua. “Bringing our top energy every week will be important for when we finally play those schools where it’ll make a difference.”
Chicago’s opponent’s chances were gloomy right from the beginning with doubles play. The No. 1 doubles squad of second-year Max Hawkins and first-year Luke Tsai kicked off the match with a 8–1 victory over Oberlin’s fourth-year Soren Zellger and third-year Callan Louis. Both the No. 2 doubles partnership of fourth-year Deepak Sabada and first-year David Liu as well as the No. 3 doubles team of first-year Nick Chua and fourth-year Ankur Bhargava defeated their opponents by as score of 8–3.
Singles play followed suit, with all six Maroons coming away with wins. Every player was able to grab a victory by winning out their first two sets. Liu came away with a 6–0, 6–0 win over second-year Paul Farah to end with the sole shutout of the match.
Oberlin went on that day to defeat Wheaton, an indicator of the results that were to be expected from the second match of the day between the Thunder and Chicago.
Again Chicago made quick work of the doubles column, winning three right out of the gate. The same lineup that competed against Oberlin played against Wheaton with similar results.
The singles lineup, however, looked a bit different. Sabada, a staple in the Maroon lineup, sat out the match and was replaced by Peter Leung at No. 2 singles. Hawkins also made it into the lineup, earning a 6–2, 6–0 victory over fourth-year Derek Mumaw. Again, every Maroon finished off their opponent in only two sets.
The pair of decisive 9–0 victories will be important for the Maroon’s momentum as they continue with their season.
Chua said, “These matches were good for the team in the sense that [we] were able to bring out some of the things we worked on in practice and in matches. It was good that everyone took care of business, but we still have areas which we could definitely improve on. We’ll work on those this week and in the coming weeks.
Chicago will finish up February with a match against DI UIC. The team will then turn around to face off against No. 24 DePaul, No. 20 Cal Lutheran, No. 19 Whittier, and No. 11 Pomona–Pitzer in succession.
The Maroons will take the next week off and begin their match against UIC on February 28 at 6 p.m.