The Harvard men’s tennis team earned a third-place finish in the ECAC Men’s Indoor Tennis Championship on Sunday with a 4-3 victory over Princeton (3-3) at the Reis Tennis Center. The team bounced back from Saturday’s 4-2 defeat in the semifinals to its hosts, Cornell. The Big Red upset second-seeded Columbia on Sunday to win the tournament in front of its home crowd in Ithaca, N.Y.
The Crimson (6-4) entered the tournament as the first seed and took down rival Yale, 4-2, on Friday but ran out of gas against Cornell. According to head coach Dave Fish, the team was still very happy with its performance this weekend after the rebound against the Tigers, especially given the circumstances.
“We are still hoping that we can get our whole squad back and assembled,” Fish said. “So I think what we’ve done so far has exceeded our expectations.”
HARVARD 4, PRINCETON 3
On Sunday, Harvard played without its No. 1 player, sophomore Denis Nguyen, due to injury. Its usual No. 3, sophomore Alex Steinroeder, moved up to the second slot despite having been in the hospital the night before.
Even with the adversity, the rest of the team stepped up and delivered. The match began with singles on Sunday. Sophomore Shaun Chaudhuri, playing at No. 1, went down to Princeton’s Matija Pecotic, the third-ranked player in the country, but junior co-captain Casey MacMaster and freshman Nicky Hu both won to give the Crimson a 2-1 lead.
Steinroeder lost a close match, 7-6 (5). 6-4, and freshman Kelvin Lam, stepping in at No. 6, lost in three sets. But co-captain Andy Nguyen tied it at 3-3 after a comeback victory, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, so doubles were necessary to decide the match.
In doubles, Andy Nguyen and Hu took an easy win on the first court, 8-3. On the second court, Lam and MacMaster were down a break, 6-5, but broke the Tigers’ serves twice to win 8-6 and give Harvard the 4-3 victory.
“It was really just tremendous play,” Fish said. “The tennis quality was so high, and the team just didn’t quit.”
CORNELL 4, HARVARD 2
On Saturday, both Harvard and the Big Red came into the match hot—each team had won its last three matches—but Cornell was the team that got off to a fast start. MacMaster and Denis Nguyen got an easy 8-2 win in No. 1 doubles, but Steinroeder and Chaudhuri went down 8-5 at No. 3, leaving the doubles point up to Andy Nguyen and Hu.
The pair led, 7-6, but eventually lost, 8-7(4), giving the doubles point to Cornell.
In singles, the Big Red won three matches in straight sets to gain the victory. At No. 5, Hu went down, 6-2, 6-4; Cornell’s Quoc-Daniel Nguyen took down Andy Nguyen, 7-5. 6-3, on the fourth court; and Denis Nguyen lost, 6-2, 7-5, in the first slot.
Chaudhuri gave credit to the Big Red for competing hard.
“They played a really good tournament,” Chaudhuri said. “Nobody really expected them to pull it out, but they came prepared and played well the whole weekend, so hats off to them.”