This past weekend, the University of Chicago women’s tennis team took in the sunshine and warm weather in Altamonte Springs, Florida and came back to Chicago with a trophy. The Maroons finished as runner-up at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship tournament in their second straight appearance. The Maroons, who were the third seed heading into competition on Friday, stomped both New York University and Carnegie Mellon University before being defeated by the overall number one seed Emory University.
On Friday morning, the Maroons took care of business against No. 6 NYU, winning four of the six singles matches, and two of the three doubles matches for a final score of 6–3. Chicago started off strong, with first doubles duo of second-year Marjorie Antohi and first-year Claire Handa easily dismissing the Bobcats 8–1. After the second doubles team lost in a hard fought battle, the Maroons’ third doubles duo composed of second-years Alyssa Rudin and Estefania Navarro brought the team score to 2–1 with an 8–5 victory.
The Maroons needed three more victories to defeat NYU, and found them in the middle of the singles lineup. The Maroons clinched victory with wins from Navarro and Rudin at the fourth and fifth singles positions and from first-year Catherine Xu at third singles. Even with first and sixth singles falling to their opponents, the team breezed through the first round. Antohi fended off her opponent 13–11 in a tight tiebreak.
With momentum on their side and revenge on their mind, the team advanced to play Carnegie Mellon in the semifinals. Earlier in the season, the Maroons faced the Tartans at the ITA Indoor Championships, where Carnegie Mellon swept UChicago 5–0.
The Maroons channeled this motivation and came out strong with two easy victories in first and third doubles, where Antohi and Handa defeated their opponents 8–6 and Rudin and Navarro defeated their opponents 8–4. First-year Xu punched the teams ticket to the next round with a 6–3, 3–6, 6–0 takedown at third singles, following wins from Handa and Rudin. With the team win already clinched, Antohi added on the final point to finish the competition at 6–3, winning her match 5–7, 7–5, 1–0 (10–2). Looking back at the Carnegie Melon match, Rudin said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the team this weekend! We aren’t an overwhelmingly better team than them on a talent level but I thought our intensity on every court was absolutely unmatched which is what pushed us over the edge.”
On Sunday, for the second season in a row and the third time in UChicago history, the women’s tennis team fought against Emory in the final and fell just short of taking home the championship. The Maroons fell behind early, losing the first two doubles matches, but the duo of Rudin and Navarro pulled out an 8–6 win over the Eagles’ third doubles pair. The team fought tooth and nail throughout the singles matches, but only Antohi was able to pull out a win, beating her opponent 6–4, 6–3. UChicago placed second in the tournament, losing to Emory 7–2. Overall, Rudin speaks positively of the outcome of the UAA tournament, saying, “I think our performance was everything we could’ve asked for! We had so many obstacles coming in, from not getting a lot of outdoor play time to having midterms during or after the tournament that we were up late studying for, so the fact that we did better than expected is a huge testament to our hard work and mental strength.”
The Maroons will play in the NCAA DIII Tennis Championship in a few weeks. They will know who they face when the draw is released on Monday, May 7.