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HMT News: Ivy League Season Update
This past weekend saw the Crimson square off against the #20 Columbia Lions on Saturday and the #25 Cornell Big Red on Sunday. It was like running through the gauntlet with the back-to-back matches against the top two teams in the league.
Junior Captain Jean Thirouin with his eyes locked on this forehand! Photo courtesy of Dean Bauer
Harvard vs. Columbia On Saturday, against the Lions, it was an old fashioned shoot-out with only one team left standing at the end. With winds topping 20mph all day, the team that could embrace the conditions would have a decided advantage. In the ever critical doubles point, the Lions would roar out to a victory at #2 and post a commanding 5-3 lead at #3 doubles as well. In a critical momentum swing, Chris Morrow and Logan Weber at #3 doubles, rattled off four consecutive games to put us back in the match. With everything hanging on first doubles, veteran senior Brian Yeung and junior ace, Kenny Tao would win a deciding tie-breaker to put Harvard on the board first 1-0.
Singles would be a long, epic battle. Columbia would get on the board first with their star at #1, Shaun Hadavi, winning in straight sets against senior captain Sebastian Beltrame. The Lions would take the overall lead 2-1 with a big win at #6 as Chris Morrow fell to Tim Wong. Next to finish was junior Kenny Tao who earned a convincing 6-4, 6-1 victory to knot the match at 2-2. Kenny game was showing off his aggressive style—laser forehands, foreward court positioning, backhand slices and tactical forays into the net to volley. Sophomore Andy Zhou stepped up next to tilt the match in Harvard's favor. Andy made sure to bring his A-game, which involves an all-court game and big time athleticism. He went up 6-2 and 5-2 only to get a little nervy at the finish line. His opponent brought it back to 5-5 before Zhou regained his composure and won 7-5. Needing only one more point for the win and two matches left on court, the focus turned to junior captain, Jean Thirouin at #3. He was leading 5-2 in the third set against their freshmen star, Jackie Tang. In the windy conditions, Jean was like a rock—hitting heavy and safe cross court balls forcing his opponent to go for the lines. The Lions would not go easily as the score became 5-4 with Jean serving for all the marbles. The match point would last an eternity with neither player giving an inch. Jean finally forces his opponent into a forehand error to push the Crimson past the finish line. You can watch the epic 75 second match point here!
Photo courtesy of Dean Bauer. The men of Harvard after their big win. Note alums Alex Steinroeder, Kelvin Lam and Nicky Hu. Harvard vs. Cornell On Easter Sunday, the Crimson Netters would have to ante up one more time against a top foe Cornell. It would be another close battle. The Crimson would earn a convincing doubles point victory with the teams leading on all three courts. Doubles has proven to be our strong suit winning 12 of the last 15 doubles points (all of those losses came after squandering match points...)
In singles, the match would swing back and forth for hours. Jean Thirouin would earn the first victory of the day at #3 against Russian sensation Lev Kasakov. Kenny Tao #2 had match points in the second set to put us up 3-0 only to be denied by a sensational recovery by the Big Red that forced a deciding third set. Sebastian Beltrame at #1 was up 3-0 in the third set only to be denied after his opponent cashed in a series of 3-3 all deuce point wins to pull out the final set. 2-1 for Harvard. Cornell would add to their tally with wins at #4 and #5. At #4, Brian Yeung got up 5-2 in the second set tiebreaker only to have his opponent come up with big serve and big shot to wrest the set and the match. Finally, with Kenny in third set at #2, Chris Morrow was up 4-2 in the final set only to watch his Cornell Foe storm back and take the final four games. It was a gut wrenching loss and the chances were there for the taking but Cornell proved too strong on the day.
We would like to thank an amazing crowd over the weekend. There were so many alums in attendance I couldn't possibly name this all but here goes: Rick Devereux, Dick Chute, Todd Meringoff, Conor Haughey, Nicky Hu, Alex Steinroeder, Denis Nguyen, Davis Mangham, Mike Libert, Rich Lee, and Kelvin Lam. Faculty Fellows Tom Dingman, Mike Phillips and Bill Todd were also all on hand to root the boys on. Thank you to all who came and my apologies if I overlooked anyone but we, as coaches, were pretty busy on court. Your support was so appreciated!
This weekend, Crimson travels to the Princeton Tigers on Saturday and the Penn Quakers on Sunday. Both matches are at 1pm. If you are in the area, we would love to have you join us. Go HMT!