Clayton, Nguyen Advance to ITA Quarterfinals

KING OF CLAY'
Christopher T. Chen

Harvard’s co-captains, junior Chris Clayton—shown here in earlier action—and senior Dan Nguyen, advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2007 Wilson/ITA Northeast Regional Men’s Tennis Championships in Princeton, N.J., this weekend. Clayton dropped just one s

After three weeks off, the Harvard men’s tennis team bounced back into action this weekend at the 2007 Wilson/ITA Northeast Regional Men’s Tennis Championships, advancing two players into the quarterfinals, which will be played today.

The tournament, which was held indoors at Princeton’s Jadwin Gymnasium, started on Friday and will end with the championship matches tomorrow.

Six members of the Crimson traveled to Princeton to compete in the 96-man singles main draw and two doubles pairs competed in the 42-pair doubles tournament. The top 32 seeds in singles received first-round byes, and the top 16 teams got a free pass in doubles.

The Crimson was led by co-captains Dan Nguyen and Chris Clayton.

After his first-round bye, No. 4 seed Clayton dropped only one set through his three matches and disposed of 13th seed Artem Vlasenko of St. John’s in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) in the round of 16 yesterday to reach the today’s quarterfinals. Previously, he handily defeated opponents from Stony Brook (6-3, 6-0) and Princeton (6-2, 5-7, 6-4).

Ninth-seeded Nguyen advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating No. 5 seed Mustafa Genscoy of George Washington. He struggled in the first set against Genscoy’s unconventional game, but was able to develop a strategy to get the win.

“[Genscoy’s] unorthodox and throws a lot of spins that guys aren’t used to,” Nguyen said. “I was instructed to be more aggressive and go to the net and I guess it worked. I executed it well.”

Earlier, Nguyen defeated opponents from Yale (6-2, 6-2) and Princeton (7-6(6), 7-6(6)). His close match with Alex Krueger-Wyman of the host Tigers was won with both players breaking the other’s serve three times each in the second set.

Freshman Aba Omodele-Lucien lost his first-round match against an opponent from Yale, but was able to bounce back in the consolation bracket and will be competing in the consolation finals today.

“Aba started to display real talent in the last few rounds,” coach Dave Fish ’72 said. “He started to really light it up and play an all-court game.”

Junior Sasha Ermakov and freshmen Will Guzick and Alexei Chijoff-Evans also competed at the ITA Regionals.

Ermakov, who was seeded 20th, defeated his second-round opponent from Fairleigh Dickinson, 6-0, 6-4, after a first-round bye, then lost in the third round, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-3, to eighth-seeded Mark Clemente of Columbia despite taking the first set.

Guzick lost his first-round match and also suffered a defeat in the consolation bracket. However, he teamed with Clayton to advance to the quarterfinals in doubles, after defeating a pair from Yale, 8-5.

Chijoff-Evans beat his first-round opponent from St. John’s, and took a set in dropping his second-round match to the sixth seed from Columbia.

“Alexei won a fine first round against St. John’s,” Fish said. “And winning the second set [against Columbia] shows a lot for a freshman.”

All three freshmen are still adjusting to the collegiate level.

“The freshmen are getting used to how intense the competition is in the first round, with better quality off the bat,” Fish said.

But if their play is any indication, they are slowly gaining confidence and should prove to be a force for the Crimson throughout the season.

The finalists and doubles champions of this tournament qualify for the 2007 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor championships on Nov. 1-4 in Columbus, Ohio.

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