They may be new to the Harvard men’s tennis squad, but the Crimson’s freshmen have demonstrated that their lack of experience is not holding them back in collegiate-level competition.
At the annual Harvard Halloween Invitational held at the Murr Center this weekend, the Crimson rookies dominated in both singles and doubles play. In the Flight A singles main event, freshmen Shaun Chaudhuri, Denis Nguyen, Henry Steer, and Alex Steinroeder all reached the semifinals, setting up an all-Harvard battle in the final four.
Steinroeder came out of the draw victorious by defeating Nguyen in the final, 6-2, 7-6, in the squad’s last home match of the fall season.
Overall, the Crimson had an impressive weekend, winning all nine of its singles matches in both Flight A and Flight B of the singles draws in the first round, and clinching spots in the finals in the two singles flights and the doubles flights.
“Well it was interesting weekend, because most of the matches were played against our teammates,” co-captain Ali Felton said. “It just goes to show that the freshmen are going to be important to us this year, because they were the four semifinalists.”
Displaying impressive form throughout the event, Steinroeder dropped only one set en route to his victory this weekend.
Steinroeder routed unseeded Wes Waterman from Amherst, 6-3, 6-2, in the first round before facing off against Felton. Steinroeder clinched a three-set victory over Felton, and then recorded a 6-3, 6-4 win over Steer to earn his place in the finals.
Steinroeder almost pulled off a perfect weekend by also reaching the finals of the doubles flight paired with Steer, but the two fell at the final stage to the Dartmouth duo of John Kelly and Michael Jacobs, 9-7.
Steinroeder and Steer cruised through to the finals, winning, 8-3, in the quarterfinals and earning a walkover win against the number-one seeded Crimson pair of sophomore Casey MacMaster and Nguyen.
“Alex had a great outing this weekend,” said Harvard coach Dave Fish ’72. “He played a very fine match against Henry Steer and had some terrific points ... All of the freshmen are doing very well and improving a lot.”
Following up on his success of reaching the Round of 16 two weeks ago at the ITA Northeast Regionals,
Nguyen held his No. 2 seeding to reach the final. Nguyen too had a relatively comfortable road to the finals, beating the Big Green’s Kelly and Harvard co-captain Davis Mangham in straight sets.
Nguyen’s toughest challenge came from fellow freshman Shaun Chaudhuri.
Nguyen won a tight first set, 7-5, but then dropped the middle set, 6-4. Nguyen battled through a tough third set before prevailing, 6-3, to reach the finals.
Chaudhuri also had an impressive performance this weekend, winning his first two matches before falling to Nguyen. Chaudhuri defeated Chris Dale of Amherst, 7-6, 6-3, and then used the momentum to earn another victory over Tom Deighton of Brown, the lone non-Crimson player in the quarterfinals. Chaudhuri had to battle in the second set, but eventually secured the win, 6-2, 6-4.