Thursday, May 11, 2017

HMT News: End of Season Awards and Notes

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HMT News Update:

Now that the season is in the books and the banners are being updated, we hosted our annual end of year banquet to celebrate and thank everyone who is involved in making HMT such a special family. We do a lot of work to foster a culture of gratitude on the team and we certainly want to put that into practice by reaching out to all of you who made our season possible.  Thanks to our fans, housing families, alums, donors, parents and staff. So many people reached out to lend us a hand during the year. Dave and I are so grateful and humbled by your continued support. 

Caption: The Team holding some serious hardware after the banquet. 

Check out the season recap video for a great tribute to the team.  It has all the best moments from the year including the exciting finish at Penn as well as interviews with players and coaches.  

Harvard Women's Tennis also had amazing run to the Ivy Title and you can watch their recap video here.  Way to go HWT!  

End of Season Awards:  
Kenny Tao and Jean Thirouin have been voted as captains for the 2018 season. 
Most Improved Player Award: Samuel Beren and Jean Thirouin
Ned Weld Above and Beyond Award: Michael Peters and Grant Solomon 
Most Valuable Player: Jean Thirouin 

Congrats to Kenny Tao and Brian Yeung for being named first team All-ivy. 

Musical Talents
This 2017 team was a very musical bunch. Most of the team plays an instrument and several members joined a bluegrass band this spring. At this moment, the team is having a serious fling with country music and our team anthem is the classic, "Take Me Home Country Roads" by John Denver.  Listen/watch to the banquet sing-along led by freshmen Logan Weber.

Goodbye Seniors!

Seniors Sebastian Beltrame and Brian Yeung are pictured below.  We will miss you both! Sebastian is heading out to San Fransisco to join Simon Kucher, a consulting firm in the Bay Area while Brian is going to continue his tennis on the pro tour and will be representing Hong Kong in the Davis Cup. 



Best from Boston,
Andrew and Dave


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Thursday, May 04, 2017

HMT News: Ivy Champs! Crimson downs Tigers and Quakers in final weekend

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Dear Crimson Friends and Family,

Heading into the final Ivy weekend, HMT needed to notch wins against both Princeton and Penn to grab a share of the Ivy Title. To set the stage, both teams had beaten us earlier in the year at ECACs. 

Against Princeton, the weather turned wet and we went down into the dungeon of Jadwin on their lightning fast courts. Despite a long warm-up, we could barely make a return for the first few games in doubles. We were late on everything. The home team had a decided advantage. But our doubles acumen once again proved pivotal. Morrow and Weber a.k.a. "the gnats" swarmed all over the net to give us one of the doubles matches at #3. Our #1 tandem of Brian Yeung and Kenny Tao would earn us the doubles win with their forceful play and fast hands.

With the doubles point in hand, we settled in for a long singles slog. Princeton would prove too tough at the top of the line-up garnering wins at #1 and #2. Kenny Tao would lose his first Ivy match to an inspired senior Alex Day at the second position. Sebastian Beltrame would lose a tough three-setter to their stalwart senior Tom Colautti at #1 singles. Fortunately, the middle of the line-up would hold steady. Jean Thirouin locked down the #3 position in straight sets with his patient and tactical play and Andy Zhou would also win in straights at #5 playing a more inspired, aggressive brand of tennis. With Princeton nabbing the #6 spot, the entire match came down to Brian Yeung at #4. Brian had won the first set going away 6-1 by serving and volleying and pressuring his Tiger opponent to hit passing shot after passing shot from his weaker one-handed wing. After dropping a sloppy second set, Brian would storm back with his aggressive style and get up a break of serve. With some nifty returns of his own, Brian would break serve to clinch the victory and send the small but vocal Crimson crowd into a frenzy.  

A special thanks to the alums who came out to Princeton and stuck it out in Jadwin - Marshall Burroughs '94 with his daughter, as well as Mac McAnulty '14 and Henry Steer '15. And Steve Dittmann '71 - who also came to the Penn match! Thanks for all your support. 

On the final day of the season, we had our first beautiful spring day (no wind, no rain, no clouds) to face the Penn Quakers. This match has developed into a fierce rivalry with some fantastic play from both teams. In the earlier contest in February, the Quakers edged us in a four-hour epic battle. This time, too, the match would have a razor-thin margin. And like last time, the doubles point would go to Penn putting us in a big 1-0 hole. Where were we going to find four singles points?

The front three courts featuring the #1, #3 and #5 positions would all go in quick straight set matches. Penn grabbed #1 singles while Jean Thirouin at #3 saved his best tennis of the season with an inspired 6-1, 6-0 performance against a hard serving Penn foe. Jean finished the season with a remarkable 16-4 record in singles and was the anchor of the singles line-up. Andy Zhou would also race out to victory at #5 winning 6-2, 6-2. Andy made real strides by returning to his aggressive style of play with big first serves and attacking groundstroke game that often saw him finish points at the net. His courage was rewarded at the end of the season with two big wins on the weekend.  

On the other bank of courts, the matches were much tighter. Chris Morrow had upped his game and put together one of his better performances on the year to win 6-2, 6-3 at the #6 position. Chris had been struggling to find his game and this win was a direct result of his commitment to go after his opponent. Now up 3-2 in the overall match score, we needed one more victory to clinch the title. Brian Yeung was down a set and a break at #4. The match was looking like it would be tied at 3-3. With his Quaker opponent serving for the match up 5-4 in the second set, Brian unleashed a few lethal backhands and managed to break back and force a tiebreaker. This was an important momentum shift as it took some pressure off Kenny Tao at #2 to win it for the Crimson. Kenny was battling Josh Pompan (son of HMT legend Don Pompan '81). Josh has been a Crimson killer. He is an amazing competitor and has the uncanny knack of outsmarting his foes, including notching wins against most of our line-up. Kenny had won the first set in a nip-and-tuck tiebreaker and then pulled ahead in the second. Kenny's laser forehand and targeted serve would tilt the battle in his favor. Finally, Kenny would break for a 7-6, 6-2 victory clinching a share of the Ivy Title.  

Here is a video of the magical match point and the team storming the court! Pure joy. 

With a 6-1 record in the Ivy League, Harvard tied Cornell and Columbia for the league title. While is extremely rare to have a three-way tie, it also happened on the women's side as HWT captured a share of the title along with Cornell and Dartmouth. Congrats to Harvard Women's Tennis on their amazing season!  

Best from Boston,
Andrew and Dave 

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

HMT News: Crimson Tied for Ivy League Lead

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HMT News: Ivy League Season Update

This past weekend saw the Crimson square off against the #20 Columbia Lions on Saturday and the #25 Cornell Big Red on Sunday. It was like running through the gauntlet with the back-to-back matches against the top two teams in the league.

Junior Captain Jean Thirouin with his eyes locked on this forehand! Photo courtesy of Dean Bauer

Harvard vs. Columbia
On Saturday, against the Lions, it was an old fashioned shoot-out with only one team left standing at the end. With winds topping 20mph all day, the team that could embrace the conditions would have a decided advantage. In the ever critical doubles point, the Lions would roar out to a victory at #2 and post a commanding 5-3 lead at #3 doubles as well. In a critical momentum swing, Chris Morrow and Logan Weber at #3 doubles, rattled off four consecutive games to put us back in the match. With everything hanging on first doubles, veteran senior Brian Yeung and junior ace, Kenny Tao would win a deciding tie-breaker to put Harvard on the board first 1-0.

Singles would be a long, epic battle. Columbia would get on the board first with their star at #1, Shaun Hadavi, winning in straight sets against senior captain Sebastian Beltrame. The Lions would take the overall lead 2-1 with a big win at #6 as Chris Morrow fell to Tim Wong. Next to finish was junior Kenny Tao who earned a convincing 6-4, 6-1 victory to knot the match at 2-2. Kenny game was showing off his aggressive style—laser forehands, foreward court positioning, backhand slices and tactical forays into the net to volley. Sophomore Andy Zhou stepped up next to tilt the match in Harvard's favor. Andy made sure to bring his A-game, which involves an all-court game and big time athleticism. He went up 6-2 and 5-2 only to get a little nervy at the finish line. His opponent brought it back to 5-5 before Zhou regained his composure and won 7-5. Needing only one more point for the win and two matches left on court, the focus turned to junior captain, Jean Thirouin at #3. He was leading 5-2 in the third set against their freshmen star, Jackie Tang. In the windy conditions, Jean was like a rock—hitting heavy and safe cross court balls forcing his opponent to go for the lines. The Lions would not go easily as the score became 5-4 with Jean serving for all the marbles. The match point would last an eternity with neither player giving an inch. Jean finally forces his opponent into a forehand error to push the Crimson past the finish line. You can watch the epic 75 second match point here!

Photo courtesy of Dean Bauer. The men of Harvard after their big win. Note alums Alex Steinroeder, Kelvin Lam and Nicky Hu.  
Harvard vs. Cornell
On Easter Sunday, the Crimson Netters would have to ante up one more time against a top foe Cornell. It would be another close battle. The Crimson would earn a convincing doubles point victory with the teams leading on all three courts. Doubles has proven to be our strong suit winning 12 of the last 15 doubles points (all of those losses came after squandering match points...)  

In singles, the match would swing back and forth for hours. Jean Thirouin would earn the first victory of the day at #3 against Russian sensation Lev Kasakov. Kenny Tao #2 had match points in the second set to put us up 3-0 only to be denied by a sensational recovery by the Big Red that forced a deciding third set. Sebastian Beltrame at #1 was up 3-0 in the third set only to be denied after his opponent cashed in a series of 3-3 all deuce point wins to pull out the final set. 2-1 for Harvard. Cornell would add to their tally with wins at #4 and #5. At #4, Brian Yeung got up 5-2 in the second set tiebreaker only to have his opponent come up with big serve and big shot to wrest the set and the match. Finally, with Kenny in third set at #2, Chris Morrow was up 4-2 in the final set only to watch his Cornell Foe storm back and take the final four games. It was a gut wrenching loss and the chances were there for the taking but Cornell proved too strong on the day. 

We would like to thank an amazing crowd over the weekend. There were so many alums in attendance I couldn't possibly name this all but here goes: Rick Devereux, Dick Chute, Todd Meringoff, Conor Haughey, Nicky Hu, Alex Steinroeder, Denis Nguyen, Davis Mangham, Mike Libert, Rich Lee, and Kelvin Lam. Faculty Fellows Tom Dingman, Mike Phillips and Bill Todd were also all on hand to root the boys on. Thank you to all who came and my apologies if I overlooked anyone but we, as coaches, were pretty busy on court. Your support was so appreciated!  

This weekend, Crimson travels to the Princeton Tigers on Saturday and the Penn Quakers on Sunday. Both matches are at 1pm. If you are in the area, we would love to have you join us. Go HMT! 

Coach Andrew and Dave 

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