Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Harvard Tennis, the "Blue" in the Blue-Gray Tournament

Harvard Tennis, the "Blue" in the Blue-Gray Tournament
Dubbed as the "bluest" state in the tournament, the "northern forces" headed south for spring break, stopping in Atlanta to train and then marching further south (and west) to Montgomery, Alabama where the fighting was red hot.   The Blue-Gray Classic – a mainstay of the college tennis circuit for 60 years – featured 16 teams from all over the country.  Fresno State and Boise State in the Northwest to San Diego State and U. of Arizona in the southern west corner of the nation to University of South Florida in the southeast.  It was truly a national tournament. 
The Blue-Gray Classic has earned its reputation by offering great competition and first-class southern hospitality (like the opening night steak dinner!).  But it is the families from the area that open up their homes to take care of our players for the week that makes it such a special treat. The Dunn's (Johnny and Mary) have been housing Harvard teams for nearly 15 years and they did so again this year.  There were new families as well that are now part of the Friends of Harvard Tennis.  Roger and Debbie Spain and their loud cheering boys Camp and Will, as well as Spud and Nancy Seale, and Bubba and Nikki Armstrong.   They all deserve a special thanks for their welcoming warmth and support during the week.
In terms of the tennis…  we drew the top seeded #17 Raiders of Texas Tech in the first round.  They would go on to hoist the trophy as they bested the Sooners of Oklahoma in the finals.  We lost a tough outing that begin in the warm-ups before the match when our freshman Christo Schultz fell on his hand after pirouetting in the air from excitement after attempting an acrobatic shot.    We had to re-jigger the line-up and make doubles adjustments.  Texas Tech is a very strong club and their depth and experience showed.   They downed us 5-0.  

The following day we had to re-fuel the troops and headed into battle against #44 Penn State.  This was an opportunity to avenge our loss several years ago at the ECAC tournament, and we took advantage of it.   With great energy and gusto, the team powered to a 4-1 win.  We won at first and third doubles, but Andy Nguyen was injured as they were coming back at second doubles.  Even without Andy in the third slot of singles, the rest of the healthy crew wrested three singles victories.  Alexei Chijoff-Evans put together a rousing performance at #1, Aba Omodele-Lucien lit it up at #2 and Christo Schultz redeemed himself from the day before and clinched the match in straight sets at #5. 
On the final day, the Crimson rode the Broncos of Boise State all the way to the wire.  Coach Greg Patton of Boise was there for another great match-up with Coach Fish.  It was no surprise that it went down the last match.  The Crimson garnered the doubles point with wins at #1 with Schultz/Omodele-Lucien clicking on all cylinders and at #3 Tchan/Chijoff-Evans playing with poise.  In singles, it would go back and forth all day (actually, it was night time by now, and we were playing under the lights).  Omodele-Lucien lost to a fabulous lefty at #2 while Nguyen lost in straights at #3.  Felton would pull out a miraculous match at #4 with some of the best lobbing we have seen, grabbing a win in the second set-tiebreaker (after saving set point!).  His sky lobs nearly were so high they nearly brought rain.  At #5 Tchan fell to a more experienced player in straights while Christo Schultz at #6 was able to polish off his opponent.  The match fell to #1 singles and Chijoff-Evans.  With everyone watching, Alexei saved match points in the second set breaker to push it into a third set for all the marbles.  His opponent, James Meredith from New Zealand, is certainly one of the best players in the country.  Alexei didn't have enough game on that day to outduel a very talented player, and fell quickly, but it was a heck of an outing.  There was no question that this year's team has made an effort to be vocal and loud and supportive.  Everybody commented that Harvard had the best energy at the tournament.  The "boys" are taking pride in bringing great energy to every match they play.    

Andrew Rueb

1 comment:

Camp said...

Sup. I've been checking the website all the time. I've seen y'alls results and they are not the best in the country but,heck with that I coundn't do any better. You guys are doing great. C.Spain.