Friday, March 19, 2010

Homage to Doubles - Harvard edges Radford and

 Homage to Doubles - Harvard edges Radford and St. John's 4-3


Thursday, March 11   Harvard Crimson vs. Radford Highlanders


            The Crimson Netters' fate rested on two freshmen – Andy Nguyen #2 and Christo Schultz #6 – who were able to pull out their third sets and lift Harvard to a 4-3 win.  The day started strong with solid doubles giving us the 1-0 advantage against the Highlanders from Radford (did they come from Scotland?).  Who knew that this small margin would make all the difference?   Singles was a back and forth affair.  Radford's #1 Ivan Salec, a nationally ranked player, brought a big time game and huge serve that knocked Alexei Chijoff-Evans off balance and knotted the match.   Junior Aba Omodele-Lucien at #4 got his grove back and won in straights while Josh Tchan fell at #5 keeping the two teams even at 2.  With three matches left on court, all in third sets, the Harvard lads were battling hard to hang on.    Freshman Schultz #6 was able to pull out his final set with some big serves and closing volleys, but Felton fell 6-2 in the third to knot the match at 3.  Finally, Andy Nguyen, playing higher in the line-up at #2, was able to rebound from a discouraging second set tie-breaker (which he lost 7-0), to win 6-3 in the final frame with a cool head and crisp groundies off both wings.   

            With midterms and papers due right before spring break, it was a tired performance by the Crimson that lacked their signature energy and spirit.  With some strong warnings from the Commander to pick it up the following day against St. John's, the boys from Cambridge needed a jolt of energy to play their regional foes.   Once again, the doubles point gave us the edge.  We faced on additional challenge, as Andy Nguyen had to sit out the match to keep him at his NCAA allowable number of dates (he and Alistair Felton had qualified for the ITA National Indoor Chps). St. John's was hungry and pumped for a shot at Harvard.    This one would hinge on the outcome of two points!


Friday, March 12   Harvard vs. St. John's Red Storm


Alexei Chijoff-Evans righted the ship at the top of the line-up to best a strong Pavel Cerny in three sets.  Felton was felled at #3 while Tchan regrouped from his loss the day before and put a W in the Harvard column with his signature piercing forehands and pressure play from inside the baseline.   He has a gift for taking balls earlier and taking time away from his opponents.   Schultz went down at #5 and Mangham too fell at #6, putting us at three all with junior Aba Omodele-Lucien playing for all the marbles.  Aba's play vacillated between daring and cautious but was able to "keep his head when all about him were losing theirs" as both teams were screaming for their lives.   Aba was down 5-4 with his opponent serving for the match with two match points in his racket.   Exhibiting a veteran's composure, he summoned the strength to battle back and rattle off the next three games for a thrilling victory.  Aba has been working very hard to put his game back on track and he earned every bit of his clinching win with his heart and determination.  


After Friday night's nail-biting win, the Crimson left for Atlanta to train on the Ned Weld Spring Break trip.  The team is competing on Thursday-Sunday in the Blue-Gray Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama. This is the 60th year of the celebrated event and Harvard is returning after a hiatus of six years.   It is a 16-team tournament that features programs from all over the country including Oklahoma (coach by John Roddick), Boise State (Greg Patton), Notre Dame (Bob Bayliss) and many, many others.  Please visit their website at to track our results and follow all the action.    Many of you will remember our days at the Blue Gray and especially our performance in 2004 as we reached the finals. 

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