Broadbent, playing at No. 1, fell to intercollegiate No. 7 Ryan Donegan in his return from patellar tendonitis and freshman Siddharth Suchde couldn’t overcome muscle spasms in his back and conceded at No. 2, but the bottom seven players in the Crimson’s lineup won convincingly to give Harvard (3-0, 3-0 Ivy) the win.
Broadbent, still suffering from the lingering effects of his injury, faced deficits of 3-0 and 5-2 in each of his three games.
In the first, he served to open the match, but tinned on a backhand rail and fell behind 5-0 before Donegan hit the tin to give the serve back to Broadbent. Broadbent won the next four points and eight of the next nine to take an 8-6 lead, but Donegan took the final four to jump out to a 1-0 lead.
Donegan then proceeded to close Broadbent out rather easily, taking the final two games 9-2 and finishing each with four consecutive points to give the Big Green (7-3, 1-2) its second win of the day.
“It’s kind of a wake-up call about a couple of things in my game that I have to be aware of [like] floating the ball on the backhand wall,” Broadbent said. “I have to make sure that ball gets deep—more of a punch ball rather than floating it where a good player like that will keep me toward the front court and then I’m put at a disadvantage already.”
“[Broadbent] wasn’t able to put pace on the ball,” Crimson coach Satinder Bajwa said. “He did a lot of retrieving and soft play. He just needed to add a little bit of intensity when he opened the court up.”
At No. 2, Suchde, hampered by his back problems, struggled against Dartmouth freshman Todd Wood and dropped the first game 9-6 in front of a hostile crowd.
In the second game, Suchde fell behind 4-0 and 6-1, but battled back to reel off eight consecutive points and even the match.
But Suchde dropped the third game 9-6 before ultimately deciding to concede.
Freshman Ilan Oren, playing at No. 3, took a 2-1 lead into his fourth game against Hank Alexander, in which Oren jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But Alexander battled back and pulled ahead 4-3 before five straight points from Oren gave the Harvard rookie a commanding advantage.
Oren allowed Alexander one more point, but closed him out 9-5, 7-9, 9-4, 9-5.
The rest of the Crimson lineup won, as well, with co-captain intercollegiate No. 8 James Bullock, junior intercollegiate No. 10 Michael Blumberg and co-captain intercollegiate No. 21 Ziggy Whitman winning in straight games at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 9, respectively.
That trio played in the second, third and sixth slots against the Big Green last year, demonstrating the depth of this Harvard squad.
Four freshmen played for the Crimson in the contest.
Freshman Jason De Lierre, junior intercollegiate No. 22 Asher Hochberg and freshman Mihir Sheth took four games to win in the sixth, seventh and eight positions, respectively.
“Sometimes, you worry when a guy has a lapse,” Whitman said. “But then, when he gets his act together, sometimes it makes you feel better about it because rolling over someone doesn’t prove to me or to anyone who’s watching that you know how to gather your thoughts and start all over again.”
The combination of the rust Harvard accumulated over its nearly two-month layoff for winter break, reading period and finals and its surprise at Dartmouth’s strength made the match somewhat tougher than it otherwise might have been.
“They’re much improved from last year—as are we,” Whitman said. “I think that we were surprised by how much they’ve improved.”
“[Right after the break is] always a tough time for us,” Bajwa said. “I can never really judge it. Every season, this is our worst week.”
Still, the Crimson never became too concerned.
“In general, these guys aren’t as skilled as we are, so the challenge is to keep your focus through a match like this,” Whitman said.
The match also served as a tune-up before Harvard’s showdown with five-time defending intercollegiate champion Trinity in Hartford tomorrow.
“An efficient match today means a focused match on Saturday,” Whitman said.
—Staff writer Alan G. Ginsberg can be reached at email@example.com.