The Maroons are the No. 3 team in the UAA this year, and that’s not based on their No. 13 national ranking in the historically strong UAA Conference. This past weekend, the South Siders took on three teams that are ranked above them: No. 12 Case Western, No. 2 Emory, and No. 9 Carnegie Mellon. All together, the Maroons went 2–1 for the weekend.
While most college kids were just waking up at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Chicago’s men’s tennis players were starting a game that was fueled, partially, by revenge. The team took on Case Western earlier this season and suffered a 5–4 loss, but that was not going to be the case this time around.
The South Siders started the game strong, taking two of the three doubles matches, and never looked back. While they dropped the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches, the next four singles matches belonged to the Maroons, and they finished the day with a 6–3 win.
“The match was on neutral ground, and we were more prepared and ready to go to finally beat Case,” said second–year Sven Kranz, when asked what was different from this game to the one played earlier in the season.
The win pitted Chicago against the Eagles of Emory, who are No. 2 in the nation. While this would be intimidating for any other team, the Maroons have already taken on No. 3 Wash U and No. 4 Pomona–Pitzer earlier this season. Both of these games were closely contested, each ending in a 5–4 loss for Chicago.
Unfortunately, this game was to end in a similar fashion for Chicago. While the Maroons were able to take a 2–1 lead in doubles play, the Eagles snatched four singles victories, handing Chicago a frustratingly close 5–4 loss. Three of the six matches went to a deciding third set, and Emory’s 2–1 advantage in that department led to them clinching the fifth and final point.
This semi–final loss didn’t slow the Maroons down in the slightest; in fact, one could say that their next game was the best of the tournament. Chicago played No. 9 Carnegie Mellon on Sunday, but perhaps a better word to use would be “demolished.”
The Maroons came out swinging, taking all three doubles matches, while only dropping a lone singles match, handing Carnegie their worst loss of the season.
“Emory is a hostile team to play so we used that energy to fuel us in the Carnegie match,” Kranz said. “From the perspective of a Carnegie fan, I’m sure the 8–1 bloodbath could also be considered hostile, but a staunch Chicago supporter would be gleeful.”
The past few years have yielded different results for Chicago, also ending 2–1, but with fifth-place finishes instead of third.
“I personally felt that there was a great team atmosphere this year and that everyone played not for themselves but for the guy next to them,” said Kranz when asked about his postseason experience this year compared to last.
That attitude bodes well for the South Siders, who are using the momentum of one of the best seasons they’ve had in recent years for bigger postseason dreams and, hopefully, results. Rest assured, Chicago will be taking the experience they’ve gained against the top teams in the nation to the NCAA Regionals, which starts Friday, May 8.