Tuesday, April 02, 2013

#16 Harvard Tennis: News and Court Views...Fun in the Sun in San Diego!

#16 Harvard Tennis: News and Court Views


In this issue

Spring Break Triumph

On deck: Columbia and Cornell at home

Photos from San Diego

Blast from the Past – Alumni Photo


Spring Break Triumph

There is nothing like spring break in La Jolla to calm the jangled nerves of a busy Harvard student.  The men's team made its annual Western trek to San Diego and the good life of the left coast from March 15-24th.  The team stayed with families in the La Jolla area and spent their days playing lots of tennis coated in sunscreen.   We've made lots of great friends in the area over the years and want to give a special thanks to Danielle Mottale, Debbie Jacobs, Peter Curtin and Jill and Stephen Seagren for hosting our boys and modeling true hospitality. 

 The trip culminates in a three-day, eight team tournament hosted by University of San Diego and San Diego State.   We were the second seeds behind Drake, who was ranked in the top twenty nationally coming into the tourney (#16 in fact).  The boys were quick to adapt to the outdoor game and thrived with the longer points.  In the first round, we dismantled Alabama-Birmingham 4-1 with strong performances by Shaun Chaudhuri, Andy Nguyen and Kelvin Lam, who all registered singles wins on the day.          With a match under our belts, we battled the home team and third seeds San Diego State.   It was a tough battle with the Aztecs, who garnered four of the first six sets of singles.  Fortunately our doubles has been a big help this year putting us ahead of the count.   Our #1 team of Casey MacMaster and Denis Nguyen have posted an excellent record at the top slot and went 3-0 on the trip.   They are a great blend of size and speed, net play and returns.  Andy Nguyen and Nicky Hu are the flashiest of the teams, capable of going on four- or five-game tears.   They have done very well at the #2 slot despite often finding themselves behind at the start -- only to click into gear near the end.   At the third position, Alex Steinroeder and Kelvin Lam provide lots of scrambling thrills.  Kelvin has turned into a doubles dynamo – a sort of Tasmanian devil – who emerges from his cool persona in the excitement of the doubles duel.  Alex is a doubles stalwart who plays a wicked ad side return game.   Kelvin and Alex went on to win all their doubles matches on spring break as well.   

In singles against SDSU, Nicky Hu and Andy Nguyen pulled out decisive wins at #4 & #5 respectively.   With the match tight elsewhere, it would be clinched when Denis Nguyen finished strongly at the top slot after dropping the first set.   When Denis is on, it is a bit like watching a laser-light show – better bring your shades.  His backhand rips through the court with guided precision.  He uses his speed and agility to track down balls all over the court.  When he gets his feet underneath him – watch out! 

            In the finals, we squared off against Drake.  It was tight battle with lots of momentum swings.  The Bulldogs were true to their nickname.  The doubles, as usual, seemed critical for both teams.  Casey and Denis would win convincingly at #1 while #2 and #3 were in dogfights.  It would be Alex and Kelvin who sealed the point, battling back from 2 breaks down. 

            The singles would be close throughout.  Drake garnered the first point as their iron-horse at #6 defeated Kelvin Lam in a command performance of counterpunching tennis at its best.  Andy Nguyen and Shaun Chaudhuri were next with straight sets victories, putting the Crimson ahead 3-1.  One more was needed but everywhere we looked, we were locked in real struggles.  Alex Steinroeder finally lost in a great third set battle, which left only Nicky and Denis on court.  Nicky Hu saved three match points in the third set to bring it to a deciding tie-breaker (James Van Allen is smiling from his grave).  The match was notable for many reasons – the gusty effort of Nicky, the grit of his opponent.  It was definitely a war.   While Nicky was clawing his way back into the match, Denis was building a 5-2 in the third set, with hopes of notching a win against a top 50 player.  While Denis' experienced opponent was able to save all four match points, on the other side of the fence, Nicky dropped two service winners on his opponent to win the breaker 7-4 to win and clinch the match. 

 It was a wonderful way to close out a great trip.  Denis was frustrated that Nicky was able to clinch the match after such a great comeback.  Enjoy the photos below!

 On deck: Columbia and Cornell at home

            Please join us this weekend for some rocking Ivy League tennis.  We face off against the Columbia Lions this Saturday at 2pm and the Big Red of Cornell on Sunday at 2pm.   This is our big home weekend and we would love all the support we can get!   We will be playing either at the Murr (Indoors) or Beren (outdoors), depending on the weather.   

Writer: Andrew Rueb (rueb@fas.harvard.edu)

Editor/Censor: Dave Fish

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
GoCrimson Men's Tennis website
Harvard Men's Tennis blog

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