For the sixth time this season, the Harvard men’s tennis team swept its weekend matches, thanks in large part to strong performances from its freshman class. On Saturday, Harvard blew by Penn, 6-1, while on Sunday, the team defeated Princeton, 5-2, at the Barren Tennis Center.
“I think both [matches] went really well,” freshman Alex Steinroeder said. “It was good to bounce back after a tough loss last weekend, and I think that everyone on the team really practiced hard this week and really played well this weekend. We all gave our best and it was a great team effort in both matches.”
HARVARD 5, PRINCETON 2
It didn’t take long for Harvard (19-2, 3-1 Ivy) to gain a major lead against the Tigers (16-2, 2-2), and thanks to a consistent performance across the board, the home team finished its weekend with its second successful match, defeating Princeton, 5-2, on Sunday.
The Crimson swept the doubles portion of the day. After senior Jonathan Pearlman and sophomore Christo Schultz controlled their matchup, winning, 8-5, junior Andy Nguyen and freshman Denis Nguyen dealt with their opponents, 8-2. Co-captain Alistair Felton and sophomore Casey MacMaster finished up doubles play winning, 8-7.
In singles, Harvard won four out of six of its matches, with freshmen claiming each of the wins. Harvard’s rookies finished the weekend a perfect 8-0.
“All of the freshmen really pulled through,” Felton said. “They seemed to be nervous [at first] in the Ivy matches, but they really stuck at it this weekend and got some important wins for us.”
Denis Nguyen set the momentum early for the squad, as he defeated his opponent, 6-2, 6-2.
“[Nguyen] got a really impressive win,” Felton said. “It really helped us, helped it sway [the match], as we had a lot of matches that seemed to be in the balance. His win was phenomenal, he played really well.”
Not to be outdone, rookie Shaun Chaudhuri soon downed his counterpart, 6-2, 6-4, and classmate Henry Steer pulled out the win, 6-4, 7-6. Freshman Alex Steinroeder, the only player of the day for the Crimson to play three sets, took the victory, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
HARVARD 6, PENN 1
In its second outdoor home match of the season, the Crimson showed its strength against the Quakers (10-8, 2-3), as it dominated from start to finish, winning the doubles point as well as five of the singles matches en route to its 6-1 victory.
Saturday marked the Crimson’s first contest since losing at Columbia the previous weekend, its first loss since Feb. 4.
“We tried not to get discouraged from the loss,” Felton said. “The nature of the Ivy League is that the teams are very close, so it’s rare for one team to win all of its matches. I think it motivated us because we hadn’t lost for a long time, and the team got to understand what it feels like when we lose. We didn’t want a repeat of that, so we worked really hard this week.”
In doubles play, Harvard swept from top to bottom. On court No. 1, Felton and MacMaster defeated their opponents, 8-1, while the two Nguyens took care of their Penn counterparts, 8-4. Pearlman and Schultz followed the trend and quickly finished up their match, 8-5.
“I think the doubles starting off really strong is a really good momentum builder for us,” Steinroeder said. “It’s a good confidence booster knowing that we are putting three really good doubles teams that are performing so well out there. Going into singles we have a little confidence to go forward.”
The Crimson was just as successful in singles play. After a Schultz loss, Harvard quickly retook momentum and in four out of five of the following matches defeated their opponents in only two sets. After Pearlman, who was once again in the No. 1 spot, won his match 6-3, 6-1, the Crimson freshmen took over for their upperclassmen. Chaudhuri claimed his match, 6-3, 6-2, Steinroeder and Henry Steer downed their opponents, 6-0, 7-6, and 6-2, 7-6 (7), respectively.
Steinroeder viewed this weekend’s matches as lessons to take forward into the rest of Ivy play.
“We just have to keep doing what we did to prepare for this weekend,” Steinroeder said. “We now know that, going forward, if we work hard during the week and really prepare for each team, if we don’t take them for granted, we’ll finish off the season strong.”
—Staff writer Juliet Spies-Gans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.