Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Harvard Men’s Tennis: News and Court Views/Back-to-Back Ivy Champs

                      Harvard Men's Tennis:

                      News and Court Views


                                              Back-to-Back Ivy Champs

In This Issue

NCAA Tournament Review

Virginia vs. UCLA Finals

Captain Elections 2014

Season MVP – Denis Nguyen

MIP – Conor Haughey

Dan Waldman '77 – World Title (Again!)

Next issue: Hall of Fame honors go to three Harvard netmen of the '90s...


NCAA Tournament Recap: 


We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Starkvillle, Mississippi and the hospitality of Mississippi State.  It was a real championship experience for the team.  As you might remember from our last blog, the team easily won our first round against Samford (4-0).  The match was played indoors (on two courts!) with singles first.   It was an excellent performance from top to bottom of the line-up.  Samford qualified by winning the Southern Conference by beating out perennial champs Furman and Davidson.  This was the second consecutive year the Crimson advanced past the first round of the tournament and into the final 32. 

In the second round, we faced  #10 Miss State.   The Bulldogs were coming off a great regular season led by their two top guns Romain Bogaerts  and Malte Stropp  who were ranked #6 and #57 respectively in the nation.  They also have a considerable depth (of international players), so there were no easy outs.  We played outdoors in their stadium.  Although there was a good crowd in attendance, everyone was respectful and respectful of great play on both ends of the court.  We figured that since graduation had already happened, we might have been spared the full SEC "rabid" student experience! 


The match started off with a heart-pounding 3-court melee. Miss State blasted out at #2 – pounding big serves and hitting returns with force.   They knocked the usually steady pair of Andy Nguyen and Nicky Hu off their guard and managed to take the set 8-3.  At third doubles, Alex Steinroeder and Kelvin Lam took an early break lead and extended it to two breaks with ferocious volleys and relentless attacking style.  Kelvin's energy rallied the team and reverberated throughout the facility.    They would win 8-5, leaving Casey MacMaster and Denis Nguyen still playing, with the doubles point on the line.   The top tandem for the Bulldogs of Malte Stropp and Jordan Angus were ranked #13 in the country and had been a tough out all year.  The match was a back-and-forth affair the whole way.  Casey and Denis staved off several break points to keep the match on serve until they finally broke serve at 6-6.  Casey held serve to give us the doubles point and lead going into singles. 


Literally, as soon as we clinched the doubles point, the rain started falling.  First, it was a quick passing shower that only need 20 minutes to dry.  But sadly for us, after only a few games in the singles, another band of clouds dropped heavy rains and postponed the match for another hour.  Once singles resumed, Miss State had lost any uncertainty they might have felt after losing the doubles point.  Energized and ready to go, the Bulldogs captured all six first sets with very high quality tennis.  They weren't ranked #10 in the country for nothing!  Two singles matches quickly went in favor of the home team at third and six singles, putting MSU up -1.


After taking their best punch, the boys regained their balance and started swinging back.  Alex Steinroeder absorbed a 6-2 first set beat down, but bounced back with with a convincing 6-1 second set to go three sets.  Nicky Hu also lost the first and rebounded with a 7-5 second set win.  At #1, Denis Nguyen was battling Romain Bogaerts.  Denis grew accustomed to the level of competition after the first set and managed to wrest the second set away 6-4, showing that he can compete with the best in the country.  Shaun Chaudhuri battled back from 5-2 in the second to get back to 5-4 deuce only to be stopped just short of tying the score against the strong Malte Stropp(#57 in the country).    MSU 3, Crimson 1.  With three matches left, things were starting to look up for the Crimson.  But at #4, Steinroeder's opponent hit the jackpot with some big winners, and collected the final point for MSU 6-3 in the third.  MSU advanced to the sweet 16 in Illinois and we were sent packing back to Cambridge and the rest of final exams! 


There were so many encouraging signs from the team this past season…and so many individual contributions, all of which added up to a 19-6 record, a second Ivy title and some impressive national wins.  The team was ranked as high as #16 in the nation.


The future is bright.  We face a big loss in Andy Nguyen, but he's the only one to graduate.  It is an exciting time for Harvard tennis and we are eager to welcome three new freshmen into the fold.   More on the incoming frosh in the next blog - so stay tuned.


Virginia vs. UCLA Finals:

            Here is a video link to the recap of this amazing final match.  Virginia was undefeated going into the championship match but came into the finals as the second seed to UCLA's powerhouse of a team.  Virginia had been the bridesmaid at these finals the last two years, not quite able to get over the final hump.  The Cavaliers captured the doubles point, but UCLA rallied to take three singles matches to knot the match at 3-3.  The championship hung in the balance at #3 singles.  Watch the video as the UCLA player reaches match point and has a floater volley to give the Bruins the title.  The player hits a strong volley that looked to have all but ended the match, and given the title to UCLA, but suddenly the umpire calls "Net!".  He has closed so tightly that his foot touched the net !  After leading 5-3 with match points, suddenly, the tide shifts and reserves course.  With a new lease on life, Mitchell Frank of Virginia storms back to win 7-5 in the third set!  


End of Year Awards:

            Sophomore Denis Nguyen was named the team MVP for his work at #1 singles and doubles.  Freshmen Conor Haughey was awarded the Most Improved Player by his teammates for his tireless dedication on and off court to his game.  Conor was a great example of professionalism and a tireless work ethic.  We are all looking forward to seeing where his game will be next season.  While many were deserving of the honor, Casey MacMaster and Alex Steinroeder were named captains for the 2013-14 season.  We look forward to their leadership and to the contributions of the rest of the team next year. 


Alumni Shout-Out: Dan Waldman:

Just in case you thought you were busy, successful and getting things done – let me tell you the story of Dan Waldman this past year.  Dan was not only working hard as a partner at the law firm of Arnold and Porter in D.C. but he also commuted to Harvard Law School to teach on a course on financial derivatives in the fall semester.  All the while, he was training and working on his tennis game.  This spring, Dan travelled to Turkey to play in the Senior World Championships in the 55 and over division.  Dan battled through a brutal draw as the 16 seed in a 128 draw tournament.  He emerged victorious – once again – on the world stage.  This is Dan's third world title to add his collection.  Very impressive indeed!    Here is a link to the draw – an impressive field.  Go Crimson! 

Writer: Rueb
Damoclean sword-holder; Editor in Chief: Fish

Dave Fish
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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