Yesterday afternoon, the Crimson (17-6, 7-0 Ivy) barely spared enough time to catch the ESPNews broadcast revealing that the squad had earned the 16-seed and the first two regional rounds would be played on Harvard turf at Beren Tennis Center.
The Crimson arrived at the Bright Hockey Center’s Blueline Room, in which it planned to watch the news, but the door was locked. The delay caused the team to miss the announcement of its name.
But the report quickly spread by cell phone: Harvard would face Quinnipiac in the first round and, with a win, continue on to play the winner of the Tulane-Notre Dame matchup.
And then it was back to practice.
“We just wanted to keep our eyes on the road,” said senior Chris Chiou, explaining why his team didn’t hype the announcement more. “We already kind of knew we were going to make the tournament.”
The Crimson had clinched an NCAA berth 10 days before, when the squad claimed at least a share of the Ivy title—the crown might have been shared with Brown at the time, but Harvard had defeated the Bears and thus would earned the NCAA’s nod.
And when last Wednesday’s win over Dartmouth capped a perfect 7-0 Ivy season, all the team had left to do was wait.
Yesterday, the Crimson was rewarded with what junior Jonathan Chu deemed “a great opportunity for us.”
As the top team in the four-squad regional played at Beren, Harvard will first face Quinnipiac (12-4, 8-0 Northeast Conference). The Bobcats have lost three of their last seven matches, and their last national ranking, coming on April 6, was No. 73.
The Crimson, meanwhile, was ranked No. 21 as of May 3, and the squad has not lost since the beginning of April.
But should Harvard defeat Quinnipiac and continue to the second round, the competition would become somewhat stiffer. No. 30 Notre Dame (15-8, 3-2 Big East) has won five of its last six matches, and No. 19 Tulane (18-5, 6-0 Conference USA) has not lost since March 13, winning its last nine.
“Both teams will be pretty tough,” remarked Crimson co-captain Cliff Nguyen. “It will be a definite war [against Tulane].”
“There’s enormous parity [between the teams],” agreed Harvard coach David Fish ’72. “They’re really strong, and those teams are really going to battle, and we’re going to really have to be sharp.”
Chu echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“For the entire year, we’ve been saying we’re going to take everybody seriously,” Chu said, “and rankings and numbers at this point don’t mean anything.