Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#23 Harvard Men’s Tennis (21-2) - News and Views

#23 Harvard Men's Tennis (21-2) - News and Views


In This Issue

Recap of Yale and Brown Matches

Alumni Grudge Cup vs. Yale

BE the first person to Name That Player AND WIN A HARVARD T-SHIRT!

Faces in the crowd


***Come out and support your Crimson as they vie for the Ivy crown against Dartmouth this Saturday, April 28th at 2pm at Harvard ***


Harvard vs. Yale:  The Game


The historic rivalry was renewed on the blustery banks of the Charles this past Friday between the Yale Bulldogs and the hometown boys of John Harvard.  With a lively crowd barking their support in the stands, it would be a exciting day of tennis.  Despite the gusty wind, the tennis quality was very high.  In the doubles, Denis and Andy Nguyen were the first to get on the board with a decisive and impressive 8-1 victory at #3.  Andy and Denis play with great elan.  Watching them dart around the court and launch forehands through the opposing team's defenses at the net is a sight to behold.  Buoyed by their performance, Schultz and Pearlman at #2 were able to find their range on returns and edge the Bulldogs 8-6.   The match of the day was certainly at #1 where the two teams traded breaks right up until the end.  Felton and MacMaster broke Yale's serve to stay in the match and send it to a deciding tiebreaker.  Fortunes would swing back and forth as Yale came back from a 5-3 deficit to edge the Crimson 10-8.  Both teams played the wind to perfection and foiled aggressive net play with lobs into the wind. 


In singles, Harvard raced out in front to extend their lead.  Jon Pearlman turned in a veteran performance at #1, stopping the streak of Yale's top dog, John Huang 6-2, 6-3.   Jon is a rock on the baseline and uses his "muscle" to wear down opponents in a physical contest.   Andy Nguyen, playing his second match since BC at #6, was sharp and responded to the call to action.  He downed his opponent 6-3, 6-1 to put Harvard up 3-0.  Not long after, Christo Schultz would win at #4 with his combination of heavy groundstrokes, big serving and dashing net play.  Christo is a throwback to the rare attacking player of the past.   By this point, Harvard had clinched the win 4-0 with three matches still on court.  Shaun Chaudhuri, who was playing up at #3, would fall in three sets to Yale's star Marc Powers (for only Shaun's second loss on the spring season) while at #2 Denis Nguyen would falter after a brilliant first set and a half, which gave Bulldog Dan Hoffman the chance to even the sets at 1-1 and force a 10-point match TB (played in lieu of a third set once a team match is decided), in which Hoffman prevailed. It was Denis' first singles loss in the Ivy-League this year.  Finally, Alex Steinroeder would pull out a terrific match tiebreaker with big serving and crafty net play to win at #5. 


Harvard vs. Brown:


With rain blanketing the East Coast, our match was forced indoors at Brown this past Sunday.  If you've never been in their facility, it is a cross between a bubble and actual roofed structure.  The courts are located on the fourth floor of a multipurpose gym above the basketball gym and squash courts.  The courts actually tremble when players run and jump.  With the home court advantage, Brown raced out of the blocks to capture the doubles point.  The big boys – Felton and MacMaster – won in comfortable fashion 8-5 at the top spot but Team Nguyen would be ambushed by the Bears at #3.   That left the doubles point hanging in the balance with Schultz and Pearlman on court at #2.  The match swung back and forth with the Crimson breaking serve to send the match into a tiebreaker for all the marbles.  Unlike the Columbia match, the pair was unable to pull through and left us in a 1-0 hole for the first time in league play. 


The men of Harvard would respond in singles against a very strong Brown line-up.  Jon Pearlman would once again impose his will by pounding groundstrokes side to side and turning the match into a battle of strength and conditioning.  It was a great tonic for the team, but only got us 25% of the way home. Schultz and Chaudhuri would drop the first sets at #3 and #4 respectively, but undaunted, both Schultz and Chaudhuri would regain their form and close out their matches in three.  Now with Harvard up 3-1, Brown would not go gently into that good night.  Brandon Burke would put on a show at #2 singles for the Bears with dazzling shot making that bested Denis Nguyen.  With only two matches left both featuring Harvard freshmen, Harvard needed one point.  Henry Steer would come to the rescue with a brave performance at #6 hitting heavy forehands that would ultimately earn the Crimson the victory.  In the dead rubber, Alex Steinroeder would fall in a three set thriller to a very talented Michael Reichmann to make the final score 4-3. 



The Alumni Grudge Cup – The Match Before the Match


Armed with knee braces, ibuprofin and liberal amounts of Ben Gay, the alums battled before the undergrads duked it out.  There were more one-handed backhands on display than I've seen in years.   The Crimson alums performed admirably on the day.  The team was stacked with past stars, including Alex Seaver, Mark Leschly, Rich Lee, Bill Stanley and Shantanu Dhaka.  Some coaches observations on the old-timers match:  Stanley never missed a return, Leschly's hair stayed perfectly in place as he glided around the court, Seaver was extremely sharp at the net and poached well, Rich "Shifty" Lee was still hitting his Courier style "baseball" backhand on the lines, and Shantanu looked as smooth at ever.  Oh, yeah, Yale wasn't bad either.  Everyone stayed around to enjoy lunch in the beautiful Beren lounge before coming out to see the match.  I would highly recommend putting next year's date on your calendar to join the fun in New Haven.  The Grudge Cup is growing and we would like to have more of you join the event. 


Faces in the Crowd

A shout out to the alums who came to the match on Friday!  In addition to the Grudge Cup players, plenty of alums came to watch the boys in action including Scott Mead, Peter Palandjian, Tim Hartch, Frank Ripley, Paul Sullivan, and Rick Devereux.  Thanks for your support.  


Name That Harvard Player! 

We dug up two old photos from ancient editions of World Tennis Magazine from 1960 and 1962 featuring two Harvard Tennis alums.  Can you name them?  The winners will receive a Harvard Tennis "Crimson" t-shirt. 

Tips: the elder statesman on the left was an icon in New England tennis and owned the old Hotel Continental on Garden St. in Cambridge for many years.  The young lad (of two) on the right, always quick to sense a great opportunity, was one of the first Harvard undergraduates to "volunteer" to go live in the Quad when Radcliffe merged with Harvard in the early '70s, and later penned a book on tennis, with photos of his then or future wife). 

Good luck!



Dave Fish
E. Scott Mead Family Head Coach of Men's Tennis
Harvard University Dept of Athletics
Murr Center
65 N. Harvard St.
Boston, MA 02163

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