SPORTS

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May 29, 2017

South Siders Successfully Reach Semifinals


Third-year Nicolas Chua, a semifinalist in the NCAA tournament, returns the ball.

University of Chicago Athletics Dept. / The Chicago Maroon

In its final matches of the season, the UChicago men’s tennis team made history. The first-year duo of Ninan Kumar and Erik Kerrigan became the first Maroons to ever reach the semifinals. In addition to their doubles success, they also were named All-Americans, alongside third-years Ariana Iranpour and Nicolas Chua. Chua was also the first Maroon to reach the semifinals in singles.

The singles and doubles championships started on Thursday, with 32 single players vying for glory, alongside 16 teams of doubles. The men’s team took no prisoners in opening up the tournament, winning the first five matches. Chua in particular was brilliant, quickly making work of opponents from Middlebury College and Carnegie Mellon University. Kerrigan, still on the court after his teammates’ wins, followed the pattern, taking out players from Colby College and Emory University. Despite all that hard work, there was no downtime for Kerrigan, as he was up next to play doubles with Kumar, where they came out victorious in a tough battle against Southwestern University, winning the first and final set 6-–2, 6–3, respectively.

The women’s team also featured on Thursday, with Iranpour competing for the third time in her career in the playoffs. Unfortunately, her tenure would not last very long, as she lost in the round of 32 against No. 3 seeded Caroline Casper from the Pomona-Pitzer team. Iranpour finished the season with a 15–9 singles record.

On Friday, the action picked back up, with Kerrigan, Kumar, and Chua still in the race. Chua started out the day well, defeating Daniel Morkovine from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the quarterfinals, but Morkovine’s teammate, No. 3 seeded Nikolai Parodi, got revenge, eliminating Chua in straight sets of 6–0 and 6–1.

“It’s hard to ever say that you’re disappointed with a semifinal finish,” said Chua. “I’ve had a bunch of ups and downs this year in terms of my performance, but I was feeling much better about my game near the end of the season. Coming into the tournament I tried to keep expectations low because the last few years I had high expectations and was extremely disappointed. I had a tough start to the tournament losing the first set, but after I recovered from that I felt that my game was good enough to go far. I wish I could have done more in the semifinals, but I thought I tried my best so I don’t really have many regrets. It gives me some confidence to have success in the last tournament of the year and I hope to do better next year.”

Kerrigan, in his singles action, suffered a similar fate, being matched up with the No. 1 seed Lubomir Cuba from Middlebury College, losing a hard fought 7–6 set and then losing 6–3. Kerrigan ended his singles season with the best record on the team: a stellar 21 wins and only five losses. He wasn’t done for the day though, as he paired up with Kumar for more doubles action. Their opponent for the day was the No. 3 seeded team from Emory University. Despite a contentious first set, which the Maroons won 7–5, the victory was easy, as the second set was also won, 6–4. This set up the young duo to enter the semifinals and continue to play on Saturday.

Unfortunately, Kerrigan and Kumar met their match early on the last day of play against the No. 1 seeded duo of Brian Grodecki and Alex Taylor from Williams College. The pair of first-years were too much for the Maroons, winning both sets 6–3 and 7–5 to advance to the next round. Overall, the dynamic first-year duo ended its season with a record of 18–9. This marked the final appearance of the tennis teams for the school year. They start their new season in September.

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