The Maroon men’s tennis team broke the dominant streak of the Emory men’s tennis team this past weekend to win the UAA conference title for the first time in program history. Chicago defeated NYU and Carnegie Mellon in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. With this win, they earn themselves an automatic qualification to the NCAAs.
In the first round, the Maroons swept seventh seed NYU 9–0. Doubles went quickly, winning 8–3, 8–2, and 8–4. Up 3–0, UChicago only needed two more wins from their six singles matches to clinch a semifinal berth. Third-year Charlie Pei came through first, winning 6–1, 6–2, and fourth-year Nick Chua won 6–3, 6–0 to seal the Chicago win. Every other singles match went similarly easily in favor of the Maroons except for the No. 1 singles match, in which second-year Erik Kerrigan was pushed to a third-set tiebreaker. He barely escaped, winning 12–10 in the breaker.
On day two, the Maroons won 8–1 against Carnegie to send themselves to the title match for the first time in program history. The Maroons put themselves in the best possible position heading into singles by sweeping doubles 8–4, 8–6, 8–5. Once again, Chicago only needed to win two singles matches to push them over the brink. Fourth-year Luke Tsai took care of business, winning 6–2, 6–1 to get the team right to the edge of victory. Another fourth-year, Peter Leung, came up big, winning 6–2, 6–2, to secure history and the win for his team. Pei, Chua, and first-year Jeremy Yuan supplied the rest of the wins for the Maroons.
The Maroons headed into the championship match as distinct underdogs, being the lower seed and having already lost to the Emory Eagles at ITA Indoors. This didn’t stop the Maroons, who came out hungry and ready to play on every court. Third doubles dropped a quick pro set 2–8, but second doubles second-year Tyler Raclin and Yuan brought the match score to 1–1 with an equally quick 8–2 win, avenging an earlier season loss to the Emory second doubles team. In a high-stakes match, second-years Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar won 9–7 to give the Maroons the lead heading into singles. Pei and Leung once again set up the team to win with two straight-set wins at the fifth and sixth singles positions. Not one to be intimidated by the moment, first-year Yuan clinched the title for the team 6–3 in the third. Chua and Tsai provided the last two wins for the team, with the final match score being 7–2.
This title seems like an appropriate parting gift for the Maroon’s historic senior class, who are some of the best players to ever step foot on the UChicago campus. Looking back on the weekend, Leung was elated. “I could not be prouder of this team and the effort and fight they showed this weekend,” he said. “UAAs are so competitive and to come out every day and fight and find a way to win against teams as top notch as Carnegie and Emory is a testament to their mental strength.” Thinking about his legacy, Leung hopes that winning a conference title becomes standard for this team in a few years.