News and Views: #25 Men's Tennis Update
ECAC Championships: Hanover, NH
This weekend the Crimson netters are enjoying a trip to Dartmouth and the ECAC Championships. The #25 Harvard team is the first seed in the tournament that features most of the Ivy schools along with George Washington. In first round action, the Crimson will face off today against a strong Penn team loaded with young (and big) talent at 3pm. You can follow the action on Twitter (@HMTofficial). The draw can be found by clicking here.
Today, we will have 10 players competing in a dual match for the second time this season (out of a possible 12). Four doubles specialists to go along with the six singles players. While I can't locate any official records, I am very confident there is no other team in the country with that many players competing in a dual match on a regular basis. We have such a deep squad and take great pride in having everyone contribute.
Minneapolis Weekend Recap: Two Golden 4-3 Wins
Last weekend, the team survived two fierce 4-3 battles against #39 Minnesota Golden Gophers and #34 Tulsa. While the Minnesota match came down to freshmen Andrew Ball at #6 singles (eking out a 11-9 second set breaker), the Tulsa match rested on the shoulders of our #1 gun, Denis Nguyen.
Tulsa jumped out to take an early 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point (Harvard is a meager 1-3 in doubles this season – must be the poor coaching!), which left the Crimson needing to win four of the six singles matches. The boys went right to work to even the score –Alex Steinroeder and Andrew Ball notched straight set wins to keep us close at #5 and #6. Brian Yeung couldn't overcome a talented Alejandro Espejo at the #3 position – leaving the match all square at 2-2. While Shaun Chaudhuri fell in a tough third set at #2, Sebastian Beltrame closed out his first win of the season at #4 by breaking serve at 5-4 in the third.
Now Denis was left on court against the Golden Hurricanes' top dog, Japie De Klerk, who was an NCAA semifinalist last season. Denis actually had match points in the second set at 5-4 on the no-add point when De Klerk dropped a 125 mph ace to the T. Denis raced out to a 4-1 lead in the second set tie-breaker before the Hurricane ace stormed back with incredible shot-making to force the final frame. This was college tennis at its finest. De Klerk is a big lanky South African with flat strokes (think Del Potro) and an Eastern forehand grip. Denis was using his legs and laser backhand to rope his opponent side to side. With both teams packed on the center court – the atmosphere was electric. Denis got up a break mid-way through the third set and was able to break again to win the match 6-3.