Lingman, Chu Make NCAA Tournament

The Harvard men’s tennis team earned a berth into this year’s NCAA tournament with teamwork, but the Crimson has reason to celebrate individual success as well.

That’s because this year, for the third in a row, the team will be sending players to the individual legs of the tournament. Junior Jonathan Chu and co-captain David Lingman will represent the Crimson in singles competition, and the two will join forces for the doubles draw as well.

“I think they both really deserve to go,” said Harvard coach David Fish ’72, “and it’s very hard to get two people out of the same team [into the tournaments].

“A lot of credit goes to Jonathan. He was playing behind a guy [Lingman] who was the strongest guy in the region, so Jonathan made his own way into that by having some terrific wins along the way.”

This will mark No. 89 Chu’s third straight year in the individual competitions. He lost in the first round of the 2002 doubles draw with Oli Choo ’03, and he fell in the first round of last year’s singles draw.

This year, he has gone 25-6 in singles and 21-10 in doubles.

No. 36 Lingman is no stranger to NCAA competition either—the senior lost in the first rounds of both of last year’s competitions, playing with classmate Mark Riddell in the pairs draw. This year, he is 29-8 in singles play and 22-13 in doubles.

“It’s the second straight year that we’re both going to go,” Lingman said, “and it will be nice to have another guy there.”

Chu and Lingman began the spring with strong doubles play, ranked as high as No. 25 in February. However, the pair has been split up for the last month—Chu played the top spot with sophomore Brandon Chiu for a 6-0 record, and Lingman paired with Riddell for a 4-1 mark.

Still, neither player is worried about the recent separation.

“We’ve been practicing how to play doubles as doubles players,” Chu explained. “Regardless of whom we’re playing with, we’ve been coached to play a certain way.”

“Dave has a lot of energy,” he added. “It’s great to play with him, he’s got a lot of firepower…so it will be a lot of fun, and we’ll get to practice a bunch before we go down there.”

The tournament will feature a 64-man singles draw and a 32-team doubles draw, and it will span from May 26-31, following the completion of the team tournament.

ALL TOGETHER NOW

The Crimson squad (17-6, 7-0 Ivy) will enter this weekend in rare condition: complete. Throughout the course of the season, the team has rarely competed with every player available—Harvard has such depth, though, that the layoffs have barely impacted the team’s record.

But now, the squad is ready and raring

to go.

Fish has submitted his preliminary lineup—eight players to fill six singles spots—and it contains co-captain Cliff Nguyen in the fourth singles position. The senior missed six of seven Ivy matches with a lingering back injury, but his pivotal win at Brown clinched that match and, for all practical purposes, the Ivy crown.

“I feel pretty healthy—reasonably healthy enough to play,” Nguyen said before he knew of Fish’s lineup, adding that he has been practicing every day.

Also healthy is Martin Wetzel, who has been sidelined for much of the year with a persistent groin injury but is tentatively penciled in the fifth spot for the NCAAs. The junior has played in the last five dual meets though, winning four.

“Every single day now, I feel like I’m making a huge improvement,” Wetzel said several weeks ago, “and my game is there. I’ve got the potential.”

Lingman, Chu, and Riddell will play one, two and three respectively—all three have missed at least one Ivy match for various reasons.

Senior Chris Chiou has missed time as well, in fact, and will fill the seventh spot while freshman Jack Li takes the sixth. Sophomore Brandon Chiu rounds out the group at eight, while senior George Turner—who has gone 8-3 this spring—didn’t make the list.

“Obviously George Turner’s been an integral part of our success this spring,” Fish explained, “but we can only name eight.

“If everybody’s healthy in that group, we probably won’t be able to name him. If we have an injury, we’re happy to have him on that list.”

—Staff writer Rebecca A. Seesel can be reached at seesel@fas.harvard.edu.

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