California Dreaming: #30 HMT (3-1) in San Francisco
The season has just gotten underway and already we have been involved in some epic matches.
The first matches of the season were held at the Murr Center where the Crimson handled the pesky Tribe from William and Mary 5-2 and then took it to Marist Red Fox in the second match of a double header 6-1. Later in the week, we squared off against the Big Green in our annual scrimmage, which we won 5-2.
It was a great first week of preparation before we left for San Francisco and the ITA Kick-Off Event at Cal-Berkeley. Players came back in great shape and hit the ground running (literally) with our 200m fitness test (10 reps under 32 seconds with 60 seconds rest). There were mental toughness sessions (for you older HMT players – the tennis journal is back in action!). As well as a season opening banquet with the women's team (HWT).
In California, the team trained for two days in Palo Alto, staying with alums and families in the area before heading into the city for our opening match against Cal. We had massive support from friends, alums and family in the area – it almost felt like a home match. Northern California has become a Harvard hotbed in the past few years with four of our current players from NorCal (as well as one of next year's terrific recruits). Thanks to the Darcy and Mark Leschly and Larry and Cybille Scott for hosting team dinners as well as to all of you who came out to support us. We might forget one or two names (please pardon us in advance).
Albert and Dylan Chang '92
Pete Stovell '93
Sean Sullivan '95
Hank Holmes '57
Mark Leschly '90
Ryan Browne…can't recall his class at the moment! Apologies to RB!
Bill Washauer '71
Larry Scott '85
Sam Morshed '96
Ryan Clark '96
In our opening match against #15 Cal, it was a slugfest from the beginning. Cal took the edge by snagging the doubles point, but the singles would go back and forth. Harvard notched the first victory in singles at #3 with Sebastian Beltrame overpowering his Bear opponent Billy Griffith in straight sets. Cal would answer back and take #2 singles with a very experienced Bergavi defeating junior Nicky Hu 7-6, 7-5, putting them up 2-1. The rest of the matches would all go the distance and be decided in the third sets. Alex Steinroeder struck next for the Crimson by probing for weaknesses and finding an edge at #4 winning 6-3 in the third. With the match tied at 2-2, Cal would strike next by winning at #5 as Brian Yeung fell 6-2 in the final frame. With only the two matches on court, things looked up for the Crimson with #1 Denis Nguyen up two match points to even the match at the top spot while #6 Kenny Tao was 5-4 in the third set. Unfortunately for Harvard, with freshman Kenny Tao still on court in the third at #6, Cal's top dog was able to twist out of Denis' choke hold on the match to clinch the match. The effort was terrific from all the boys and certainly a good starting place for the season.
In the next match against #28 NC State on Sunday, Harvard fought till the end with a few of the final bounces going our way. The doubles was able to pull out the first point of the match with victories at second and third positions. Singles would be another slugfest. Sebastian Beltrame anchored the singles once again with a straight set win at #3 and Kenny Tao followed suit at #6 while Brian Yeung fell at #5 to give the Crimson a 3-1 advantage. But the lead would quickly disappear. Denis Nguyen was up again a set and a break but his opponent used relentless defensive wiles to stretch it out to capture the second and third set. #2 Nicky Hu battled bravely but also dropped the final frame, leaving the match knotted at 3-3 with senior captain Alex Steinroeder left on court. Alex would get up an early break but the lead wouldn't last long as Beck Bond mounted a great comeback to lead 5-3 serving. With everything riding on the last match and all the fans screaming in the stands, the drama had only started. Alex fell 30-0 on Bond's serve leaving the Wolfpack only two points from the match. Steinroeder went for broke on a second serve return and gutted out a couple of points to wrestle the game to deuce – the deciding point in college's new (old) No-Ad scoring format. Alex would break serve and then hold by also winning the crucial no-add point again – in all Steinroeder saved three match points and willed his way to the third set victory.
HMT is on the road this weekend, facing off against Greg Patton's Boise State squad and Arvid Swann's Wildcats of Northwestern. Both matches will be in Evanston, Illinois. The following week we will be back to the Murr for the ECAC Championships. Harvard will compete on Saturday, Sunday and Monday – stay tuned for exact times. We hope to have a rocking crowd that weekend.
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