Harvard Men's Tennis Opening Salvo
From the season's opening bell, the Crimson Netters have answered the call. In the first weekend of dual matches, Harvard notched three wins in two days, downing Denver (4-0), Drake (4-1), and DePaul (4-0) in convincing fashion. With a tailwind of confidence, the team traveled west to Bloomington, IN, where it notched another win against a strong Vanderbilt squad before suffering its first defeat of the year to the hometown Hoosiers of Indiana. Before departing Indianapolis on Super Bowl Sunday, the team downed Butler 7-0, to return to Cambridge with a 5-1 overall mark.
The team squares off against a strong Virginia Tech team in our house, the Murr Center, this Saturday at 2pm. Please come out and support our team! We play the BU Terriers at 6pm in a double header.
January 27-28th: Opening Kick-Off Tournament vs. the three D's (Denver, Drake and DePaul)
Harvard students don't like getting D's. With three matches in two days, the team had to pull out all the stops (and ice and advil) to endure a grueling weekend of tennis. Both DePaul and Drake were nationally ranked, and Denver potentially equally tough but as yet unranked. It took some heart and strong doubles to notch three wins. Our doubles set the tone all weekend as we won all three doubles points, providing a decided advantage going into singles. At the top spot, senior co-captain Alistair Felton and sophomore Casey MacMaster went undefeated over the weekend to announce their presence on the national scene. At #2 doubles, the dynamic duo of Nguyen and Nguyen was temporarily derailed just prior to the start of the events when Andy sprained his ankle, which forced some different pairings on the first day of matches. Sophomore Christo Schultz anchored the doubles with three wins (two with freshman Henry Steer and another with the senior Jon Pearlman).
With the doubles point in hand, the singles line-up went to work. Jon Pearlman, our steady #1 player, was out for two of the three matches with a shoulder strain that gave young freshman speedster Denis Nguyen the chance to test his mettle in the top slot. Another frosh, Henry Steer, played behind Denis at #3, where he went undefeated in singles play over the weekend. Henry combines a relentless running game with a huge, pro level forehand that allows him to finish points from anywhere. Alex Steinroeder, another rookie, played #3 and #4 and showed what a sharp tennis mind can accomplish, by displaying a variety of spins and speeds. He can serve and volley with a big first serve or play a game of cat and mouse with slices and lobs – whatever the situation demands. Christo Schultz at #5, on the other hand, plays an athletic and power game that comes vertically at you from the opening racket spin. He is a anachronistic serve-and-volleyer who is ever hunting for easy pickin's at the net. He won some grueling matches and notched two wins (the third match was stopped, but he was leading 5-3 in the third). At number, #6 Shaun Chaudhuri preferred the slow torture of putting his opponents in a groundstroking vice grip, relishing each turn of the screw, with his consistent, probing, and penetrating balls.
Before the kick-off weekend began, our volunteer assistant, Eric Butorac returned from the Aussie Open (where he got to the quarterfinals!) just in time to coach in our match against Denver. Eric played Down Under with his new partner, Bruno Suares from Brazil, falling to the eventual champions of Paes and Stepanek. Having Eric on the sidelines was just another morale boost on a great weekend of tennis (and certainly a help to our doubles). Keep your eye on Eric throughout his season and let us know if you are going to watch any of the big ATP Tour Events this year.
Super Bowl Weekend: Commodores, Hoosiers and Bulldogs
After a strong start, we headed off to Indy for three matches in three days. Our match this past Friday with the Vanderbilt Commodores was one for the ages (hosted by the Hoosiers in Bloomington). With our full line-up intact, confidence at a high, we promptly went out and lost our first doubles point of the season. Needing four singles against the Commodores was going to be a tall order. Our guys put their heads down and went to work. Freshmen Alex Steinroeder and Shaun Chaudhuri were the first off the courts, putting us up 2-1 with strong performances at #4 and #6 respectively. Jon Pearlman lost at the top slot to Vandy star Charlie Jones. Christo Schultz, at #5, after going down a break in the third, righted the teetering ship to post another win for the Crimson. While Henry Steer fell to cramps in the third at the 3rd singles position, Denis Nguyen (superfrosh from LA) kept the match alive as he fought Austin Gonzalez at #2 singles. The Commodore standout went up 5-3 in the third with his talented lefty game, only to have Denis save 5 match points with his steely nerves and never-say-die attitude. Denis would convert on that break and then never looked back – reeling off the last four games of the match. Denis plays an exciting brand of tennis that uses lightning foot speed and explosive shot to keep even tepid tennis fans on the edge of their seats. It was a great 4-3 win and left the boys wrung out for the match the next day against the Hoosiers.
The match with Indy would feature another two wins for freshman Steinroeder and Chaudhuri but the team would fall 5-2 on a strong showing by the tough Hoosiers. On the final day of the trip, Harvard dropped Butler 7-0 before flying out of a very crowded Indianapolis right before the kick-off of the Super Bowl.
Our calling cards so far this season have been the tremendous senior leadership from Davis Mangham and Alistair Felton, our Co-captains, as well as the strong play of the freshmen (and the "stepping up" of several other upperclassmen to new levels of their own games). Together, these make for a potent combination. The other seniors, Pearlman and McAnulty, are leading by example – demonstrating what commitment and professionalism looks like through their extra practice sessions, diet, time-management and weight room toughness. We would not be here without them. Four eager freshmen have taken their example to heart, injecting lots of enthusiasm into our daily workouts, and spurring on the other upperclassmen. Visiting teams may soon be calling them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse if they continue to work hard at their games.
Alumni Shout Out Section
We would like to send a special thank you to Andrew Noga, the president of the Harvard Club of Indianapolis, who so graciously arranged housing for the team on Saturday night in Indy before the Super Bowl. He and his wife Kelly (and two very excited little girls who stayed up past their bedtimes) hosted a welcome feast for the team at their house and pulled together three other families to make sure we had beds that night. There were no hotels within 80 miles of the city. Without Drew's help, we would have been camping out at the courts for the night.
Below is a photo of Dr. Paul Newton, who played for Dave in the late 70s. Paul lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, and commutes to LA where he teaches at USC. He was at our match against the Hoosiers. Also, a photo of Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, where the movie "Hoosiers" was filmed.
There is a lot of work to be done but it has been a fun start to the season. Please cheer us on against the Hookies on Saturday at 2pm!
Andrew Y. Rueb
HMT in the famous Hinkle Fieldhouse, where one of the greatest sports movies, Hoosiers, was filmed. We measured the basket, too!
Dave and Dr. Paul Newton
E. Scott Mead Family Head Coach of Men's Tennis
Harvard University Dept of Athletics
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