Saturday, April 21, 2007

Harvard Men score satisfying win over a tough Yale team 5-2...Brown at Harvard Sunday at noon!

Playing without senior co-captain Scott Denenberg, lost to a probable stress fracture, the Harvard men nonetheless captured a satisfying 5-2 win over Yale in New Haven yesterday afternoon.  Sunday we take on Brown at the Beren Tennis Center at noon.

Playing without Denenberg, a fixture with Valkin for much of the last three years in Harvard's starting doubles line-up, we had to re-form our doubles teams at #2 and #3. Valkin and freshman Mike Hayes teamed up at #2, while Nguyen and Burke, partners a month ago, were united again, this time at #3.  These pairs proved their worth, winning 8-3 and 9-7 respectively.  Ermakov and Kumar had more than they could handle, as Brandon Wai, Yale's #1 for the last three years and one of the region's best players, teamed up with Rory Green to capture first doubles for Yale.  Rory is the younger brother of former Harvard Co-captain Joe Green,
and cousin of former and present Harvard players John Doran and Gareth Doran.  Small world, eh?  Harvard 1-0.

Suspense was lacking today.  Mike Hayes was quite a bit stronger than his Eli counterpart, and won with dispatch at #6. Ermakov put on a similar display at #5 to win in straight sets. Valkin's first set was a see-saw battle, but Gideon hopped on the second set just in time to clinch the win for Harvard over Rory Green.  4-0 Harvard.

Sophomore Michael Caldwell gave the Eli's one of its two points, as he took out Kumar in straight sets.  At #3, Dan Nguyen had lost his first set 6-2 to Jeff Dawson, a big hitting sophomore.  Not daunted when Dawson jumped to an early break in the second, Nguyen steadied his attack to break back mid-way through the second set.  He broke again to capture the set and force the required 10-point match tiebreak, which he won 10-7. 5-1 Harvard.

In the remaining match between Wai and Clayton, the crowd was treated to a display of superb shotmaking, retrievals and power, as Clayton and Wai took turns playing stellar defense to stay in the point, while waiting for a chance to tee off on each other with their big forehands.  Wai remained one of the final obstacles for Chris Clayton in his bid to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament singles tournament.  Wai, rather slender, but gifted with impeccable timing and footwork, played some of the finest timing you will see apart from players on the pro circuit.

Clayton battled with him long after we had captured the match.  After most matches were completed, Wai captured the first set by holding onto an early break.  Clayton grabbed the lead in the second set 4-2, with break points to go up 5-2, two breaks, but the veteran Wai firmed up his game.  He held serve to stay within one game of Clayton, who was to serve at 4-3.  Wai took an injury time out, and upon resumption of play, broke, held, and broke to capture the match. 
Final score 5-2 Harvard.  We'll have to wait and see on the NCAA's for Clayton…

All in all, a terrific rebound performance by a stubborn Crimson squad. 

Ivy Notes:
Columbia sneaked away with a 4-3 victory over Princeton yesterday to set up a season-ending showdown with Penn for the Ivy title.  Penn has already earned a share of the title, while Columbia hopes to tie Penn with a win, which would force a playoff at Columbia.  Makes our win over Columbia 5-2 look pretty good!  Tomorrow's title match between Columbia and Penn at Columbia promises to be a doozy! Good luck to both squads!

David Fish
Head Coach of Men's Tennis
Harvard University Dept. of Athletics
Murr Center
65 N. Harvard St.
Boston, MA 02163-1012
Phone: 617.495.2695/Fax: 617.495.2700
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