The Harvard men’s tennis team will depart the cold Cambridge weather for Norman, Okla. to join Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Memphis in the ITA Kick-Off this weekend.
The No. 28 Crimson will first take on the No. 30 Fighting Irish on Friday, and either the No. 8 Sooners or the No. 31 Tigers on Saturday, depending on the results of the first match.
“All four teams in this tournament are some of the top teams in the nation,” sophomore Shaun Chaudhuri said. “Every match is going to be a battle, so you can’t really take anything for granted at this point.”
Harvard and Notre Dame (2-1) will face off for the second time this season, with the first coming in the fall at the Tribe Invitational. The Fighting Irish came out on top in the tournament, winning seven of eight singles matches against the Crimson and taking two of the three doubles matches as well.
Notre Dame opened up its dual match season with a pair of 7-0 wins, but fell earlier this week to No. 37 Northwestern in a 4-3 decision.
The Fighting Irish are led by junior Greg Andrews, who has compiled a 10-5 record on the year and is 3-0 at the No. 1 position. As the Big East Player of the Year last season, Andrews also earned a spot in the 2012 NCAA Singles Championship.
Another top competitor for Notre Dame is senior Blas Moros, who has posted a perfect 12-0 record dating back to the fall campaign.
After taking on the Fighting Irish, Harvard will resume competition the next day against either Oklahoma or Memphis. While the Tigers sit just three spots behind Harvard in the national poll, the Sooners have played their way to a top-10 ranking.
“Oklahoma is very good,” co-captain Andy Nguyen said. “If we beat Notre Dame, we’ll take every match as a learning experience and hopefully we can do our best against [the Sooners].”
Oklahoma (1-0) took down Wichita State earlier this week, winning all nine matches and dropping only three sets.
Senior Costin Paval has proved to be a formidable opponent over the course of his career as a Sooner. Paval was named the ITA preseason No. 6 player in the nation and he has partnered with sophomore Dane Webb to make up the country’s No. 1 doubles squad.
Memphis (1-0), the Crimson’s other potential opponent, came out on top, 6-1, in its last outing against No. 47 Michigan State.
Sophomore Connor Glennon plays at the No. 1 position for the Tigers. The reigning C-USA Co-Freshman of the Year, Glennon put together a 1-3 record this fall against ranked opponents, but managed to pull out a three-set victory against the Spartans.
Harvard’s lineup is still in flux as a minor groin injury to sophomore Denis Nguyen has made him questionable to play. If Nguyen is forced to sit, Chaudhuri will play at the No. 1 position with sophomore Alex Steinroeder, freshman Nicky Hu and junior co-captain Casey MacMaster filling out the top spots behind him.
The Crimson dominated its opponents this past weekend at the Harvard Winter Invite. Competing against Boston College, Marist, and Fordham, Harvard players took part in 32 matches and claimed victory in 29 of them.