Crimson Attacked by Nittany Lions in ECAC Semifinals:
The regions top seed, Penn State, defeated Harvard 5-2 on Monday at Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY en route to winning their first regional title and earning an automatic bid into the winter indoor nationals. Despite a shaky doubles effort in which Penn State captured all three matches, the Crimson singles line-up wrestled with the Lions deep into five three setters. Ashwin Kumar was the only player to fall in straights to a tough Mike James, pre-season top 35 nationally, at the number one position. Clayton could not slay Adam Slagter, a.k.a. "Goliath," who had at least a foot height advantage and a cannon lefty serve. Clayton succumbed 6-3 in the third set as Slagter served three service winners to close out the match. On Harvard side, freshman standout Alexei Chijoff-Evans downed James Dwyer 6-3 in the third with his relentless groundstroke pressure. Alexei has used his height and wingspan to move forward and impose his will on his opponents this year. Dan "Nice Guy" Nguyen outlasted and out-dueled a fierce Brendan Lynch at number three singles in a third set super-tiebreaker. Frosh Aba Omodele-Lucien fell 7-5 in the third after saving match points and coming back from a 5-2 deficient in the last set in his match at number six. Sasha Ermakov also went down in the third after some spirited play in the second where he showed flashes of brilliance and grit – a combination that will make him a force this year if he can sustain that level of play.
Overall, Coach Fish and I were very happy with the performance of the troops. While disappointed not to be bringing another ECAC trophy back to Cambridge, we have a clear idea of what steps need to be taken to move this talented team forward and vie in the spring for the Ivy title. There is a lot of hard work in front of us but we are eager to see how far we can go.