The men’s and women’s teams look to continue their success from the fall as they prepare for their first match of 2016 this weekend against Chicago State University. With the men’s team ranked No. 6 and the women’s team ranked No. 16 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) preseason national poll, both teams have the confidence they need to face the Division I Cougars.
The approaching season sees last season’s standout performers, Nicolas Chua (M second year) and Ariana Iranpour (W second year), both return. During the past fall at the ITA National Small College Championship, two-time ITA Regional champion Chua placed sixth in singles. Also an ITA Regional champion, Iranpour took fourth in singles. Both will surely be expected to lead their respective teams this year with the help of highly touted recruiting classes. After a 2014– 15 campaign that saw them reach the Division III semifinals, the UChicago men were able to acquire the top recruiting class in Division III. The Maroon women weren’t far behind, obtaining the second-best recruiting class in Division III.
While extremely talented, both the Maroon men and women feature young rosters with only five out of 17 men and three out of 12 women listed as upperclassmen. As was the case last year, the upperclassmen will step up and mentor the younger players with their experience.
The Chicago State men come into the match-up with a 0–2 record, having been defeated by IUPUI 2–5 and Northwestern 0–4. Second-years Christian Gonzalez and Gonzalo Martinez were able to secure wins for the Cougars against IUPUI; more notably, Gonzalez and first-year Gabriel Niculescu won a doubles match against Northwestern. Having only first- and second-years filling up the roster, the CSU men have the potential to find a new identity for the program and reverse a streak of losing seasons. With zero wins to date, the Cougar men will be hungry for their first win of the season.
The Cougar women will be opening their season against the South Siders. In October, fourth-year Marnie Perez-Ochoa took first place in the Bronco Invitational’s Stephanie Prychitko flight singles title. After going 3–19 in the 2014–15 season, they will be looking to start their season on a positive note.
The Maroons will take on the Cougars this Sunday, January 24: the women’s team at 11 a.m. and the men’s team at 3 p.m.