The 20th-ranked Case Western Reserve University women's tennis team suffered a setback in its first match of the 2016 University Athletic Association Championships, as the Spartans were edged by the 16th-ranked University of Chicago 5-4 at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
The loss will send the fifth-seeded Spartans to the consolation draw, where they will take on the eighth-seeded University of Rochester at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 23rd. Chicago will advance to the UAA semifinals to take on top-seeded and nationally top-ranked Emory on Saturday.
With the loss, the Spartans fell to 12-5 overall on the season, while the Maroons improved to 10-4.
Friday's match was a reversal from a contest earlier in the season between the two teams, when the Spartans eked out a 5-4 win over Chicago on April 10th in Chicago, Illinois.
Chicago won the first doubles match of the day, with Ariana Iranpour and Courtney Warren besting senior Taylor Sweeney and freshman Jessica Liu 8-2 in the third doubles match. However, the Spartans would win the next two doubles matches, with seniors Surya Khadilkar and Michelle Djohan defeating Tiffany Chen and Stephanie Lee in the second doubles match, and sophomore Nithya Kanagasegar and senior Sara Zargham, ranked eighth in the region, upsetting the region's third-ranked pairing in Rachel Kim and Lucy Tang 8-4 in the first doubles match.
In singles play, Chicago tied the match with a 6-1, 6-1 win for Chen over Djohan in the fifth singles match, and took the lead after regionally 12th-ranked Kim defeated 20th-ranked Liu in the second singles match, 6-2, 6-0. Kanagasegar earned a key win in the first singles match to tie the match score at 3-3, as the region's seventh-ranked singles player topped Iranpour, ranked second in the region, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4. Sweeney would give the Spartans the lead back with a 7-6 (2), 7-5 win over Kaela Bynoe at fourth singles, but the Maroons knotted the score at 4-4 after Tang, ranked 21st, topped Khadilkar in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Similar to the first meeting between the two teams, the contest would come down to the sixth singles match between Zargham and Kat Stevanovich. After Stevanovich won the first set 7-5, Zargham responded with a second-set victory, 6-4. However, the Chicago freshman would pull out the win, clinching the team victory with a 6-1 triumph in the third set.
The Spartans will now turn their attention towards their consolation matchup on Saturday. Rochester will enter the match with an overall record of 6-9 on the season. The Yellowjackets are ranked 20th in the Northeast Region, and feature the region's seventh-ranked doubles pairing in Christine Ho and Camila Garcia. This will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams, after the Spartans picked up a 7-2 win over Rochester on February 28th behind doubles wins from Djohan and junior Jennifer Lowe and Liu and sophomore Peyton Young, and singles wins from Liu, Djohan, Khadilkar, Young and junior Kennedy Mulholland.
The winner of Saturday's match will advance to face the winner of the other consolation contest between New York University and Brandeis in the fifth-place match, while the losing teams will face in the sixth-place match. Both matches are scheduled for Sunday at 9:00 a.m.
Fans can follow the action with live twitter updates on the CWRU tennis account @casetennis1 and the UAA tennis account @uaatennis. Results and a recap of the match will be posted to athletics.case.edu following the completion of play.