Wednesday, February 15, 2017

HMT News: 2017 Season is Underway

If you cannot see the images properly, please click here.
HMT News: Game on! 

The new season of Harvard Men's Tennis kicked-off on Friday, January 13th with an opening practice and conditioning test on the track (think 10-200s). Because exams are now before the Winter Break, this "j-term," or January term, means no classes and a lot of tennis—Camp Harvard Tennis. We packed every day with double session hits, lifting/training work, video analysis, a mental game seminar and a new professional development workshop. It was an intensive and rewarding ten days.  

Caption: Here are some of the boys after their work on the Gordon/ITT track.

For the professional development portion of the j-term, we welcomed back Lorenzo Beltrame, our mental coach, for a three-day seminar to build on the first program he conducted on mental performance in the Fall. In addition to in-person sessions, which he conducts in both group and individual settings, Lorenzo guides our players via ongoing written assignments throughout the season to help further develop their mental game. Lorenzo has worked for over twenty years with the legendary Jim Loehr at HPI, Human Performance Institute, helping athletes compete at their best under pressure. The program is centered on using the challenges and stresses of competition to build one's competitive "character" muscles. He views the crucible of competition as a personal growth opportunity (we all know how much we learn about ourselves under pressure) and his methodology taps into those experiences with results. 

The team also had a two-day seminar with public speaking guru, Robert Walsh. Bob is an acclaimed actor, director and professor who works with business schools and executives around the globe to teach the art of public speaking, storytelling and effective, authentic communication. This was the first year we worked with Bob and our team had a blast honing their skills in the public speaking arena. They learned about the instrument of their voice, the keys to a effective public speaking and how to deliver a succinct talk. The boys continue to use a few of the warm-up exercises Bob taught them, including a call-and-response Tasmanian work song (has to be heard!) that is now a part of the their pre-game ritual.

Caption: The boys with Bob in the Beren Tennis Lounge.

Before our opening weekend of competition, we held a kick-off party with alums, Friends, staff and family to celebrate the beginning of the season and the introduction of Mark Leschly '90 as our new Friends Co-Chair. Mark succeeds Alex Seaver on the men's side, who has been a pillar for HMT for nearly two decades working alongside Debbie Goldfine. 

Caption: Mark Leschly is pictured below front and center in the photo of the 1990 team. I didn't realize we were sponsored by PONY that year!!! Are those PONY shoes too? So glad we switched to the Reebok pumps only a year later. What a blast from the past! 

The Crimson Netters kicked off the opening weekend of on-court action by hosting the Crimson Kick-Off Tournament. The team registered a strong victory against Furman before falling to a tough Old Dominion squad. ODU notched the first four points on the board to seal the match while the last three courts were tilting in Harvard's direction. You can watch the highlights here. 

In the second weekend of the young season, the team notched an impressive 4-0 win against the BYU Cougars. The following weekend we were forced to face the Tennessee Volunteers without our top singles player, Sebastian Beltrame, due to an ankle/foot injury he suffered at the end of the BYU match. Everyone moved up in the lineup against the stalwart SEC squad, handing the guys a great opportunity to step up and put to the test much of what they have been working on with Lorenzo. It was a close match from the start, with the doubles point coming down to the last match on court where the Volunteers squeaked out the victory. In singles, Kenny Tao and Brian Yeung, playing in the top two positions for the first time, notched impressive wins to put us right in the middle of the fight. The Vols would prove too tough in the end, winning a third set breaker at #3 and another breaker at #5 to win 5-2.  Click here for video highlights of the weekend including the double-header against Bryant. 

In our third straight weekend of matches, we flew to Chicago for our annual battle with Northwestern (and Boise State). The Cats are ranked #9 in the country and would beat Duke the following day. Their team features three senior All-American contenders who are consummate professionals (we can't wait till they graduate!). Once again, missing our top gun, the team had an opportunity to play higher in the lineup and gain invaluable experience. We were shut out by the Cats but finished strong the following day against Greg Patton's Boise State Broncos 4-0. The emerging doubles pairing of Logan Weber (the only freshman in our starting doubles lineup) and Chris Morrow registered two wins that the weekend at third doubles proving their mettle as a quick and scrappy combo.  

Upcoming schedule
The men travel to Princeton, NJ this weekend, February 17-19, for the ECAC championship, which this year includes most of the Ivy teams as well as St. Johns. The following weekend we are back in the Murr where we face off against a tough Memphis squad on Sunday, February 26th at 1pm. Please join us at home or on the road. We love your support!  

Best from a snowy, beautiful Boston,
Coaches Andrew and Dave 

Please don't include me in future emails.

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