Friday, April 25, 2008

2008 Ivy League Champs - Undefeated Ivy Season - Crimson Finish Off Big Green 7-0

2008 Ivy-League Champs - Undefeated Ivy-Season - Crimson Finish Off Big Green 7-0

Cambridge, MA
Thursday, April 24th

Coach Dave Fish and Seniors Dan Nguyen and Ashwin Kumar, after Dave was dunked with ice water! Contrary to the cliche, Dave looked like a fish in water...

The Crimson Netters earned the top spot in the Ivy League and finished off their last conference match in fine form with a 7-0 defeat of Dartmouth. With the Ivy Championship under their belts, the Crimson has automatically earned a berth in the 64- Team NCAA Tournament. The NCAA selections will be made on Tuesday, April 29th to determine where your Crimson will play its next matches. Watch ESPN News at approximately 2pm to find out the draw or check the NCAA website at

Yesterday's match against the Big Green was Senior Day and we honored three graduating seniors: Captain Dan Nguyen, Ashwin Kumar and Gareth Doran. These three leaders were celebrated with an on-court ceremony that included the traditional class gift of engraved Cross pens donated by doubles All American and Friend of Harvard Tennis board member, Robin Boss '87, as well as a few parting words from Coach Fish (aka Phil Donahue). We have included a brief bio on these three players below. They have all contributed mightily to the team and will be sorely missed. Dan Nguyen aka "Nice Guy," "Dan the Man," and "Danimal" will be remembered for his integrity, work effort and laser backhands. Ashwin Kumar (aka "Shwin" or "Undercover Brother") will leave behind a legacy of All-American serve and volley artistry and deft shot making capabilities as well as his warm off-the-court personality. Gareth Doran will not be forgotten either. Gareth's ability to spin a yarn and tell a tall tale, which must be attributed to his Irish roots, kept everyone on the team at full attention and laughing in stitches. His contribution in the weight room and the Irish "working class" grit will be a high bar for future generations to come.

In the match against Dartmouth, the team was able to rev up the engines for one more Ivy contest. There was little doubt that the historic performance against Brown on Sunday, in which the Crimson blasted the other top Ivy contender 7-0 without dropping a set, left Harvard worn-out. Sasha Ermakov sat out the singles to rest his ankle and this moved up the boys at the back half of the line-up. In the only minor "hiccup" of the day, the previously-undefeated Ivy duo of Kumar and Ermakov lost their first match in conference to Dartmouth's sharp tandem of Schechtman and Brodie. But the second and third pairings stepped up to fill in the breach. Chijoff-Evans and Aussie sensation Mike Hayes triumphed by two breaks at the second slot and Dan Nguyen and Aba Omodele-Lucien capped their Ivy season with an 8-3 whuppin' at the third position.

In singles, the Crimson got down to business. Kumar downed Brodie at #1 by a score of 6-4, 6-4. Chris Clayton worked over Justin Tzou 6-4, 6-3 with a barrage of forehands while Dan Nguyen chipped away at Dan Freeman and finally prevailed in a third set match tiebreaker. Alexei Chijoff-Evans, playing up at #4, outplayed Jeffrey Schechtman 6-4, 7-6 using his combination of big serving and attacking groundies which forced his opponent to pass off his weaker backhand wing. Aba Omodele-Lucien, at #5, lit up the match with his power forehands and his pretty one-handed backhand. At the #6, Michael Kalfayan competed against David Fink in the last match on court. Mike finally found his attacking game just in time to prevail in a match tiebreak after saving match point. It was a fine exclamation point to a great Ivy season.

The team is looking forward to testing its mettle against some of the top teams in the country at the NCAA tournament!

Coach Rueb

Co-Captain Dan "Danimal" Nguyen, looking like the cat who swallowed the canary...after dunking Coach Fish!

Here are the individual bios compiled and written by Mike Libert. These moving tributes were read over the loud speaker during the Dartmouth match.

Ashwin Kumar
Hometown: Round Rock, Texas
New Braunfels Senior High School
Lives in Leverett House, Concentrating in Economics
So far this year, Kumar has posted a 21-11 singles record and 24-6 doubles record. He has recorded wins over ranked teams from Michigan, Kentucky, Virginia and Clemson playing at first and second singles and at first doubles. Kumar is currently ranked #35 in the nation in Doubles with partner Sasha Ermakov. He has an all-time Singles record of 66 victories, 50 of which were in dual match competition. Additionally, Kumar has tallied 75 career doubles wins with partners Sasha Ermakov and Jonathan Chu. Kumar has been ranked as high as 100 in the country in singles and top 5 in the country in Doubles. As a freshman, he made it to the semi-finals of the NCAA doubles tournament and was honored as an All-American. Kumar is a two-time First-Team All-Ivy Singles Selection and a three-time First-Team All-Ivy Doubles selection. Kumar's talent as a leader these past four years has been readily apparent in his willingness to share insights with his teammates on the game and how to perform under pressure, as well as by being supportive of the entire team. We will sincerely miss you, Kumar.
Dan Nguyen, Co-Captain
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
Mountain Pointe High School
Lives in Kirkland House, Concentrating in Biochemistry
So far this year, Dan has posted a 23-12 singles record and 16-13 doubles record including a nine match win streak at positions third and fourth singles. Nguyen has an All-time Singles record of 65 victories, 48 of which were in dual match competition. To date, Nguyen has tallied 41 career doubles wins. This fall, Dan reached the finals of the ITA Regional Tournament, boosting him to a ranking of 2 in the region. Dan Nguyen was awarded honorable mention to the All-Ivy Singles Team Selection in 2007. Dan has done a great job leading the team by example and serving as a good role model for all of us to follow as a genuine, understanding, and supportive person. We will sincerely miss you, Dan.
Gareth Doran
Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
Attended Blackrock College
Lives in Eliot House, Concentrating in Economics

Doran has an overall singles record of 6-6, with key wins over South Florida, Florida A&M and Boston College. Gareth Played at No. 6 singles, going 2-1 in spring duals last year and compiling a 4-5 singles record on the year ... Doran also advanced to the quarterfinals of his bracket in the Virginia Fall Classic in his junior year. As a sophomore, he finished in the round of 16 at the Big Green Invitational. Before attending Harvard, Doran won the national junior championships in Ireland in 2002. Doran has been a significant leader these past four years, and has stepped up in strength and conditioning as one of the fastest and strongest players on the team. We will sincerely miss you, GD and your lively spirit, humor, and support.