In winning its fourth straight regional title, the University of Chicago women’s tennis team once again secured its ticket to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. This past weekend, the Maroons defeated both Lake Forest College and Carleton College in convincing fashion, with their second straight 5–0 sweep to maintain a 16–5 record and their two-game winning streak.
To start off their postseason run against Lake Forest, first-years Lauren Park and Nicole Semenov cruised past the Foresters 8–1. They were followed by second-year Catherine Xu and first-year Eugenia Lee, who came out with the 8–4 victory. To conclude the doubles sweep, third-year Marjorie Antohi and second-year Daryn Ellison won 8–5. In singles competition, the shutout was made possible thanks to Antohi defeating Forester Julie Lord 6–1, and first-year Annika Pandey defeating Katie Wegrecki 6–0.
Up against a Carleton side looking to upset UChicago and with the goal of winning it all, the Maroons reminded the Knights who they were. Singles competition saw Antohi and Xu both secure 6–0 victories against their opponents. In doubles competition, Xu and Lee complemented each other’s skills to take an 8–3 victory. Antohi and Ellison continued by dominating the Knights’ duo of Jeanny Zhang and Faith Yim 8–2. In an important No. 3 doubles match, Park and Semenov broke the tiebreaker and won 7–5 to send the Maroons to Kalamazoo, Michigan to compete in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
This victory sets up another showdown between UChicago and UAA champion Emory University. The previous match between them on April 27 was a grueling battle that went until the very end. Ultimately, the Eagles came out on top with a 5–4 victory. The No. 12 Maroons have a chance to redeem that loss and complete one of the biggest upsets in UAA history against the No. 1 Emory.
When asked about the significance of making it this far in the tournament, Xu said, “I think what’s really been keeping the team motivated is our willingness to fight and compete for each other. The game really changes when you are playing not just for yourself, but also your team. We constantly push each other to reach new highs and we are always hungry for more. Last year’s Elite Eight match was a great experience and a huge motivator for me to push the team to work even harder. As one of the three members on the current team who played that match last year, I think we were given a great opportunity. Even though the outcome wasn’t what we had hoped for, we took only positive messages from that match and feel more than ready to go out and compete this year. In terms of nerves, I think playing on the big stage will always cause some nervousness, especially with such a young team. However, I think we have proven to many that we have the capability to compete very well regardless of where we play or who’s on the other side of the net.”
The Maroons will take on Emory University on Monday, May 20.