This weekend, the Maroons (ranked No. 6 nationally) will travel to Pepper Pike, Ohio where they will participate in the 2016 ITA DIII National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the Cleveland Racquet Club. Similar to the Maroons, the teams attending are all highly ranked nationally (with No. 14 Case Western being the lowest ranked of the participating teams), and each will provide an early test for the Maroons’ legitimate national title hopes. The South Siders will face Trinity University (Texas) in the first match on Friday morning.
Standing with a perfect 5–0 record, the South Siders are coming off two straight statement wins, beating No. 10 Kenyon 6–3 and No. 26 UW–Whitewater 8–1. Against Kenyon, the Maroons swept the doubles side and took three out of six of the singles matches. UW–Whitewater proved no match for UChicago as they convincingly swept singles and dropped only one doubles match. With all the momentum and confidence the Maroons currently have, they should definitely be the team to be feared, albeit being seeded No. 4 in the tournament.
The Trinity University Tigers possess a record of 3–3 with their last three results all building their win column. While their record indicates a mediocre season so far, it must be noted that all three losses came from DI opponents in exhibition matches. In DIII play, Trinity remains undefeated, coming off a hot win streak. The Tigers will be no easy contest and will pose a good battle for the Maroons.
Other teams in the tournament include: No. 1 seed, No. 3-ranked Wash U; No. 2 seed, No. 4-ranked Pomona-Pitzer College; No. 3 seed, No. 5-ranked Emory University; No. 5 seed, No. 8-ranked Trinity University (Texas); No. 6 seed, No. 10-ranked Kenyon College; No. 7 seed, No. 11-ranked Carnegie Mellon University; and No. 8 seed, No. 14-ranked Case Western Reserve University.
The results of the ITA DIII National Men’s Team Indoor Championship will certainly hold some weight before the tennis season hits full stride. The winner will be a strong, early candidate to win the DIII National Championship. When asked about the team’s expectations for this year going into the tournament, second-year David Liu confidently replied:
“Our expectations are very simple: we’ve had the best recruiting class in the country for the past two years, and we are all playing at the top of our game. Last year we reached the final four of NCAAs and this year, our expectations are to win it all and bring home UChicago’s first ever NCAA title.”
When asked about how they would improve from the final four finishers to champions, he continued:
“This year, we lost two fourth-years who played a major role on the team from both a tennis and leadership standpoint. It will be impossible to replace them, but it will be critical for some of us to step up as leaders, especially because we have a very young team. Of course, it helps to have such a talented freshman class coming in, because that provides us with the depth necessary to compete in a long season, and it makes every practice that much more competitive and pushes us all to get better on a daily basis.”
The Maroons will play Trinity University Friday morning at 9 a.m. If they win, they will advance to take on the winner of the Pomona-Pitzer and Carnegie Mellon match at 1 p.m. on Saturday, with the championship game to be played on Sunday at 9 a.m.