Last weekend the No. 5 University of Chicago men’s tennis team traveled to West Bend, WI for a match against No. 31 Gustavus Adolphus College. Dominant doubles play led the way for the Maroons’ 6–3 victory over the Gusties, improving their record to 14–2 overall, and 10–2 against nationally-ranked opponents. The Gusties fell to 20–8.
The Maroons captured all three points in doubles, gaining an early advantage that ended up being the decision in the overall match. The first-year duo of Erik Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar secured an easy 8–2 victory at No. 1. The teams of fourth-year Max Hawkins and first-year Tyler Raclin at No. 2, and third-year Bobby Bethke and second-year Charlie Pei at No. 3 both played tough matches to win 8–6 and earn the sweep.
In singles play the Maroons went 33, with wins at No. 2 from Pei, No. 3 from Kerrigan, and No. 6 from second-year Jonathan Li. Third-year Luke Tsai played a tough three-setter that included extra games in both the second and third sets, but was defeated in the end at No. 4. Pei won his opening set 6–2, lost the second 6–2, and came back in the third to win 6–3 and get a point for the Maroons.
“I’ve had a lot of matches go three sets recently and while I’ve perhaps had lapses of attention or played some poor sets recently, I’m glad I was able to pull out a tough victory,” Pei said.
Staying focused throughout the match can be difficult, but he says, “My past few matches, and particularly the three three-set matches I played over spring break have helped me prepare for this. In addition, all the drill work we’ve done in practice where we focus on specific patterns that apply nicely to match situations was extremely helpful.”
Kerrigan and Li both won in straight sets, only dropping three games apiece over the course of the match. Head coach Jay Tee said that both men played “focused, tough singles matches to clinch the win, and it was great to see them step up for their team.”
During his match, Li was “focused on staying in in the moment and not letting any lost points have a lasting impact on [his] game.” He also noted that it was helpful to have “strong displays of energy and focus during the match from [teammates] Erick Kerrigan and Max Hawkins as inspiration.”
The team was pleased with the victory overall, but it also recognizes the work that needs to be done this week in preparation for next weekend’s matches against UW–Whitewater and Wash U. Pei says the team will focus on “playing with more energy and competitive spirit.”
“The goal for practice this week would be to bring the same level of energy and focus we would want on display in a match situation. I think this will definitely help us stay sharp and prepare for the upcoming matches at Wash U,” Li said.