It was a bittersweet weekend for the Harvard men’s tennis team. The Crimson extended its winning streak to five this weekend and moved into a tie for second place in the Ivy League after sweeping Brown and Yale.
But No. 19 Columbia finished its perfect 7-0 conference slate and thus clinched the Ivy title with its win over Princeton. The Lions, who last captured the crown in 2010, dropped only one match across its whole Ancient Eight season.
The Lions’ victory means that No. 34 Harvard (16-6, 5-1 Ivy) will fall short in its bid to claim its third-straight Ancient Eight title. While the squad reached the second round of the NCAA Championships the past two seasons, Columbia’s win means that the Crimson must hold out hope for an at-large bid to the tournament this year.
“Congrats to Columbia for going undefeated in Ivies,” junior co-captain Alex Steinroeder said. “That is very tough to do…. It is disappointing not to win [the Ivy League title] again, but our ultimate goal for the year has been to make NCAAs and try to go far there. That goal is still within reach.”
Harvard headed on the road to face the Bears (10-11, 0-6) on Friday before returning to Cambridge to host the Bulldogs (12-9, 1-5) on Sunday afternoon. Although it will not wear this year’s Ivy crown, at 5-1, the Crimson still sits in a tie for second in the conference.
HARVARD 7, YALE 0
Harvard football may have beaten Yale for each of the past seven years, but on Sunday, Harvard tennis defeated the Bulldogs for the 13th straight year. Yale has not won a single match in its last three contests.
The Crimson captured its fifth-straight doubles point on the Murr Center courts. Junior Christo Schultz and freshman Sebastian Beltrame took an 8-5 win, and sophomore Nicky Hu and freshman Brian Yeung finished it off with an 8-4 victory to set the tone early.
From there, three Harvard singles players got early breaks to further extend the Crimson’s streak of good play. Yeung was the first to close it out, making it 2-0 Harvard with a 6-3, 6-2 win. Beltrame was only slightly less efficient in a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Steinroeder officially clinched it with a 6-3, 6-2 win. Juniors Shaun Chaudhuri and Denis Nguyen along with Hu all finished off their second sets cleanly to give the Crimson the 7-0 victory.
All in all, with seven straight-set triumphs, it was one of the cleanest matches the team has played all season, according to Steinroeder.
“The match against Yale was a very solid, professional performance,” he said. “All the doubles came out on fire and that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon…. That was exactly the match we were looking for.”
HARVARD 4, BROWN 2
On Friday afternoon, the Crimson traveled down to Providence, R.I. to take on the Bears, who have not won a conference matchup this season but who nearly derailed Harvard’s Ivy title hopes last year with a late-season upset over the Crimson at home.
On Friday, Harvard got its revenge, emerging with a 4-2 victory. The Crimson earned its fourth-straight doubles point against Brown. The No. 11 ranked tandem of Nguyen and MacMaster was in control from start to finish, emerging with an 8-6 victory.