Felton’s Play Highlights Chowder Fest Tourney
The Harvard men’s tennis team had a mixed bag of results this weekend as it hosted the Chowder Fest tournament at the Beren Tennis Center where it competed against South Carolina, Minnesota, and Notre Dame.
Because the results from the tournament do not count towards the Crimson’s team record, Harvard used the exhibition to prepare for upcoming events.
“I was encouraged,” said Crimson coach Dave Fish ’72. “I thought last week we were rusty but that we got better through the whole weekend. We just weren’t up to speed last weekend, but we did get better. And then this weekend I thought we played quite well. These teams were all good.”
Junior Alistair Felton stood out in his consistent and dominant play through the weekend. Felton emerged victorious in each of his three singles matches as well as two of his three doubles matches, in which he teamed up with sophomore Andy Nguyen.
“It was a very good outing for Ali,” Fish said. “I was very happy to see him do well.”
Fish also complimented the play of freshman Casey MacMaster. The freshman won his first singles match on Friday, lost in straight sets to Golden Gopher Julian Dehn on Saturday, and dropped a tiebreaker to the Fighting Irish’s Dave Anderson yesterday.
“He played a tough match [Saturday] and was good on Friday indoors,” Fish said. “Yesterday, he played a very good Notre Dame player and split sets with him and lost on the tiebreak. It was probably the best we’ve seen him play.”
Harvard’s top duo this weekend, junior John Pearlman and sophomore Christo Schultz, paired together for the first time for doubles matches. After leading 8-7, the duo lost its first match to the Fighting Irish’s Stephen Havens and Tyler Davis in a tiebreak, 9-8 (7-3). The two showed considerable poise, battling back from down 3-1 to be in a position to win at the end.
“This was our first time playing together, but we definitely had good chemistry,” Pearlman said. “We played very well. Playing tight matches for the first time as a doubles team is very good for us to get comfortable with each other.”
In his singles matches, Schultz lost twice—to Minnesota’s Rok Bonin (6-3, 6-3) on Saturday and Notre Dame’s Greg Andres yesterday (6-2, 7-6).
Fish was encouraged by the sophomore’s performance this weekend.
“He is playing higher than he’s ever played,” the coach said. “He played very competitive matches this weekend, and that’s a really good sign because he’s starting to show he can compete with any of these guys.”
Pearlman lost yesterday to the Fighting Irish’s Steven Havens (6-3, 4-6, 6-2), but defeated the Golden Gopher’s top player, Sebastian Gallego, in three sets (6-2, 6-7, 6-2).
“John’s work ethic is outstanding,” Fish said. “In tennis, you use the term stingy for a guy who doesn’t give up points carelessly. He’s very physically fit. He’s got a strong game, powerful shots. He really has the capacity to wear someone down. I think it’s a great lesson to the other guys on the team about where you can go if you are in great shape.”
“I think the tournament was good, there was a very high level of play,” Pearlman added. “It tested the team to play the highest level possible. It’s really good for the guys in terms of preparation for regionals next week. The team played well as a whole—there was very good energy.”
Fish was unconcerned about captain Aba Omodele-Lucien’s injury, which kept him out of action in this weekend’s Chowder Fest.
“We were just being careful about an arm that was sore from serving too much last weekend,” Fish said. “He just had played an awful lot of tennis.”
Although Notre Dame held the best results on the weekend, Fish thinks this experience will help the Crimson in the future.
“When you get a chance to see better players the guys don’t do as well, so they know what they have to work on, or they surprise themselves and realize they are not that far off,” he said. “I didn’t see anyone not putting energy into the tournament.”