The University of Chicago men’s and women’s tennis teams continued their strong start to the season this past weekend. Both teams toppled Hope College on Saturday to move to 2–0 this year, and the men added another victory against Kalamazoo on Sunday.
The Maroon men swept Hope 9–0, exhibiting the depth that has bolstered them to a national ranking of No. 3. The veteran group, fresh off a trip to the NCAA Final Four, dismantled the Flying Dutch for the third straight season.
Third-year All-American Erik Kerrigan dispatched Mark VanderStoep of Hope in straight sets at No. 1 singles, before later teaming up with third-year Ninan Kumar to collect a win at No. 2 doubles, 8–3. Kerrigan capped off all-around dominating individual performances.
The Maroons won five of six singles matches in straight sets against Hope. In that sixth match, at No. 2 singles, second-year Jeremy Yuan dropped the first set but bounced back to win the second and third sets. None of the doubles matches were closer than five games, with third-year Tyler Raclin and Yuan—one of the country’s top doubles pairings—winning at No. 1 doubles with a score of 8–2.
Carrying that momentum into Sunday’s match, the Maroons once again emerged victorious, besting No. 25 Kalamazoo 7–2. The doubles matches propelled Chicago to a 3–0 lead. Yuan and Raclin at No. 1 doubles and the pairing of Kerrigan and Kumar at No. 2 doubles both won with an 8–4 margin. Fourth-year Charlie Pei and first-year Joshua Xu squeaked out a narrow victory, 8–7, in the third doubles match of the day.
Yuan, once again, complemented his doubles victory with another win in singles, as did Pei. Second-year Alejandro Rodriguez and first-year Alex Guzhva rounded out the Maroon winners at No. 5 and No. 6 singles, respectively. For the weekend, Yuan and Pei were perfect, going 2–0 in each of their singles and doubles matches.
The men entered the season with hopes of repeating as UAA champions and chasing the program’s first NCAA National Championship trophy. So far in this young season, the men certainly seem positioned to compete for plenty of hardware.
“The men took control early and never let up, which is what we wanted to see from a veteran group,” said head coach Jay Tee after the Hope match. “We still have some work to do in terms of developing an identity, but I’m confident that we will get there eventually.”
On the other hand, the women’s match against Hope proved to be a more competitive affair. The No. 10 Maroons eventually secured the victory 6–3, thanks to the contributions of a trio of talented first-years.
The Flying Dutch defeated Chicago’s pairing of third-year Marjorie Antohi and first-year Lauren Park at No. 1 doubles before also collecting wins at No. 2 and No. 3 singles. The Maroons won their matches at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, and All-American Antohi picked up a crucial win at No. 1 singles to knot the score at three apiece. In the decisive stretch, first-years Eugenia Lee, Annika Pandey, and Alexandra Zhang put away the match for the Maroons in the No. 4 through No. 6 singles spots.
Similar to the men, the women entered into the season with lofty expectations, eyeing a UAA title and looking to improve upon last year’s trip to the NCAA Elite Eight. With a depth of talent but relative inexperience, the women’s team will continue to rely on the contributions of the rookies, in addition to the steady leadership of its veterans. Coach Tee acknowledged as much in his post-match comments: “We might be the youngest team in the country, so it was great for us to deal with some pressure and put a match away,” he said.
“I am proud of the way the team has come together to support each other, creating an environment that makes it feel like we have been competing together for a long time, not just a couple weeks,” added first-year Lainey Axell.
Both teams will take to the court again on Friday, February 8, against DePauw University.