The University of Chicago men’s tennis team had an eventful spring break, traveling to California and playing four different nationally ranked teams. While most students were relaxing or traveling, the No. 5 Maroon tennis team beat No. 37 Colby 9–0, No. 14 Tufts 9–0, No. 13 Williams 6–3, and lost to No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) 7–2.
The Maroons (12–2) won their first 18 matches of the trip by taking down Colby (5–2) on Monday and then Tufts (3–1) on Tuesday. Dominating Tufts is an impressive feat for UChicago and even head coach Jay Tee was impressed. Tee commented on the 9–0 win, per UChicago Athletics, “I think today was maybe one of our most comprehensive efforts from top to bottom that we've had all year.”
The next match did not go as well, however, as CMS stayed undefeated at 12–0 by handing the Maroons their second loss of the year. “We're taking the loss as a learning experience and hopefully we can use the lessons we learned in the match to help us later down the line,” said first-year Ninan Kumar, the No. 1 single and No. 5 double with first-year Erik Kerrigan.
Kumar and Kerrigan are just two of a number of first-years that serve roles on the team this year. Whenever a team has a number of first-years competing at the college level for the first time, there are obvious and unavoidable growing pains.
“The biggest change for me at least was the adjustment to college academics combined with school,” Kumar said. “It's much more difficult to be successful in both but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.”
The doubles teams of fourth-year Max Hawkins and first-year Tyler Raclin and second-year Charlie Pei and third-year Bobby Bethke were the only Maroons to win their matches against CMS.
The Maroons were able to bounce back the very next day however, taking down their third New England Small College Athletic Conference opponent of the trip in Williams (6–1). In handing Williams its first loss of the season, the Maroons won two of the three doubles points and four of the six singles points.
Williams was the ninth nationally ranked team that UChicago has beaten already this year.
Kumar commented on using the trip as a learning experience, with the ultimate goal of winning the NCAA tournament: “While we had some pretty good results, we were disappointed by our singles result against CMS. However, it was good to have that experience now rather than during NCAAs. We're determined to get better and be ready and we have the team to bounce back.”
The Maroons do not play again until April 9 at Gustavus Adolphus College.