Netmen Gored by Toreros, 5-3
Noriega, USD Bump Harvard From NCAA Tourney
Early this year, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was forced to take refuge in the Vatican Embassy when the heat was on.
Early Friday afternoon, Peruvian strongman Jose Luis Noriega showed he could stand the heat much better than his authoritarian namesake, spearheading his 17th-ranked San Diego men's tennis team's 5-3 victory over 13th-ranked Harvard in the sweltering 90-degree bakery of Indian Wells, Calif.
"I didn't have a very tough match today, so the heat was not really a factor for me," said Noriega, who set the tone for the first-round NCAA tournament match by dispensing with Harvard sophomore Mike Shyjan at first singles, 6-3, 6-0. "[Shyjan] was pretty nervous--he double-faulted a bunch of times."
Before the match, Harvard Coach Dave Fish said he was worried about the Toreros' one-through-six singles depth. But the Crimson's fourth, fifth and sixth seeds set their mentor's fears to rest. Harvard sophomores Jon Cardi, Derek Brown and Albert Chang each pulled out a three-set match--sending Toreros Chris Toomey, Kevin Bradley and Thomas Simonsen down to bitter defeats.
It Just Doesn't Mattera
But after Shyjan failed to produce, the rest of Fish's 1-2-3 bread-and-butter trio fell as well. Unranked J.R. Edwards knocked off Harvard's 17th-rated Mike Zimmerman at third singles to pull the Toreros within one match of the Crimson.
Torero Captain Dan Mattera then went the distance to end Captain Mark Leschly's Harvard career with a victory at the second position. Leschly battled back from a 7-5 first-set defeat to win the second, 6-3, but Mattera took command in the final stanza, closing out the match with five straight games to ice a 6-3 win.
"That was a key match," San Diego Coach Ed Collins said. "That would have put us down 4-2 after singles if he hadn't won."
Instead, the contest was knotted at 3-3. After USD's Bob Mehran and Toomey swept Leschly and Roger Berry at third doubles, it was up to the 10th-ranked duo of Shyjan and Zimmerman to keep the Crimson alive.
But they faced the formidable Noreiga-Mattera combo, who sent them back to Cambridge in less time than it takes to stage a Latin American coup with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph.
"I was pleased with us today," said Noriega, who recently claimed the DuPont Intercollegiate National Clay Court championship. "We played well, and held our serve the entire match."
With the victory at first doubles, USD clinched a second-round matchup with second-seeded UCLA. The Bruins demolished the Toreros, 5-1, on Saturday.
The team season ended for Harvard, the first Eastern team ever to receive an at-large berth in the tourney. However, Shyjan and Zimmerman (as well as Noriega and Mattera) will compete in the NCAA individual championships this week at Indian Wells.
"We just weren't sharp the way we needed to be, for a lot of reasons that just aren't that important now that it's over," Fish said. Toreros, 5-3 in Indian Wells, Calif.
1. Jose-Luis Noriega (USD) d. Mike Shyjan (HARVARD),6-3, 6-0; 2 Dan Mattera (USD) d. Mark Leschly (HARVARD), 7-5, 3-6, 6-3; 3. J.R. Edwards (USD) d. Mike Zimmerman (HARVARD), 6-1, 7-6 (9-7); 4, John Cardi (HARVARD) d. Chris Toomey (USD), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; 5. Derek Brown (HARVARD) d. Kevin Bradley (USD), 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-1; 6. Albert Chang (HARVARD) d. Thomas Simonsen (USD). 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.
1. Noriega and Edwards (USD) d. Zimmerman and Shyjan (HARVARD), 6-3, 6-4; 2. Mattera and Bradley (USD) vs. Cardi and Chang (HARVARD), suspended, match clinched; 3. Bob Mehran and Toomey (USD) d. Leschly and Roger Berry (HARVARD), 6-4, 6-3.