Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Greetings to all from Harvard Men's Tennis, fall wrap-up, January preview

2009 Fall Review - Season's Greetings From Harvard Men's Tennis

The 2009-10 Harvard Men's Tennis Team would like to wish our Friends and Family a joyous holiday season and a very happy New Year.    May all your forehands be clean and your serves have extra pop in 2010. 

Fall Wrap-Up

The fall tennis season is for individual competion. This is the time for players to hone their games and build a base of conditioning and strength without the pressures of team match play, in preparation for the grueling match play of the spring season.  We made some great progress, as each player added some new skills to his repertoire.  We'll see how they look come January. 

Once again, we began our adventures in Napa Valley hosted by Berkeley at the Meadowood Club and Resort.    Here, we clashed racquets with Michigan, Mississippi and the Cal-Berkeley Bears.  The team was joined by a few local alums including the legendary Dale Junta, Hank Holmes '57, and Bill Washauer '71, Dave's teammate.   Their stories and support will not soon be forgotten.  Despite being our kick-off event, it is one of the highlights of the year.  Players stayed with families in Napa, joining forces once again with the Clarks, Katzs, Gilpins and Dave and Andy Nguyen's newly-recruited hosts, the Ojdanas.  It was an embarrassment of riches as the host families went above and beyond the call of duty to show us what true hospitality looks like - whether at the endless dinner spread at the Katz or the pool party at the Clarks.  The Cade winery also hosted us for an evening and a tour of their eco-friendly winery.  The view and hospitality there too was breathtaking.

As for the tennis, there were great moments, sparkling sets and a few good complete matches.  High-caliber competition is more effective than any advice we might give to highlight players' weaknesses.  Everyone is more receptive in Cambridge after taking some hard knocks against top-level competition. 

After a week to get back on East Coast time and buy their books at the COOP, the team was off to National Tennis Center in Flushing for a flighted invitational tourney with teams from the Northeast Region.  Once again, there were a few strong performances but not a sustained onslaught - and no one came home hosting a crown from their flight.  It was a bit disappointing - but still early in the fall.

A few weeks later, back at Harvard, we hosted Notre Dame, Alabama and Minnesota to a three-day Fall Tournament.  The teams were shown the "Best of Boston" as former squash alum Andy Goldfarb hosted the Notre Dame team in his box for the Bruins game, and HBS alum Jonathan Lavine showered us with spectacular bench level seats to the Celtics' first home pre-season game as the teams (and coaches) lined the floor to see what the big boys look like in person.  In the competition between the lines, freshman Andy Nguyen garnered the Corey Winn '40 freshman of the tournament by winning all three singles matches while Aba Omodele-Lucien, a junior, was able to go 2-1 at the top singles slot against some stiff competition.  Notre Dame's Casey Watts was named the Dale Junta player of the tournament, capturing all three of his singles matches.   He is now ranked about #24 in the country going into the spring.  Our top singles player, Alexei Chijoff-Evans was in Tulsa playing at the All-American Tournament against the best in the country.  Harvard tallied more wins than Notre Dame and Alabama in the round-robin format.  Things started to look up...

At Regionals (the old "Rolex Regionals" to you vets), hosted by Dartmouth in picture-perfect Hanover, NH, the big news was the doubles crown captured by upstarts Andy Nguyen and Alistair Felton, which earned them a spot in the ITA National Indoors Chps. at Yale.  (At the nationals, Steve Denton, the coach of the A+M squad, and former world top tenner, would nickname Felton "the beast from the East" for his daring play).  In singles, freshman Josh Tchan downed Cornell's top player in a dazzling two-set performance.  Tchan showed himself capable of applying relentless pressure throughout, including first and second serve pressure.   But the frosh ran out of steam in the second match of the day, so he is going home to LA for the holidays to build his stamina!   Alexei Chijoff-Evans was close to form, finding himself up a set and a break in the quarterfinals against the eventual champion, only to wobble on the brink of victory.  He is eager to be in that spot again soon for a replay.    Freshman Christo Schultz gave Columbia's top player Mihai Nichifor, a talented Romanian, a run for his money falling in a close two sets.

While the identity of this year's team is yet to be forged in the white heat of the spring battles, one encouraging tendency has emerged.  Our five freshmen (Josh Tchan, Andy Nguyen, Christo Schultz, and Will McNamee (who was out during the fall with hip surgery) and walk-on Tunc Kiymaz are strong additions to a good squad.   They will all be contributing to our team this year and in years to come.  They share a deep love of competition, hard work, and doubles. With work and good health, we suspect that we may have a doubles line-up that can more than hold its own against any team we meet.

The players have just finished exams (yes, before the Winter Break!) for the first time in the history of Harvard.   Many were snowed in by the storm that blanketed the East Coast but I'm sure they are all glad to be home finally without the looming pressure of exams and papers to write.  But they all have one homework assignment over the break - to read Daniel Coyle's
The Talent Code.   We recommend this book to anyone - especially if you are in dire need of a last-minute Christmas present. 

When we return back to campus, our first trip is to Virginia Tech for an individual tournament January 22-24, then the next weekend for the Harvard Kick-Off, featuring BYU, MTSU (Middle Tennessee!) and DePaul.  Come out to the Murr Indoor Tennis Center and watch the guys in their first duel matches of the season.    Please visit our schedule on    Look out for when the Crimson is in town.  Happy Holidays!

Andrew Rueb, with a little (very little) proofreading assistance from Dave Fish!

David Fish
Scott Mead '77 Family Head Coach for Harvard 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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