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Blake Advances to Round of 16 of NCAAs

By Richard A. Perez, Crimson Staff Writer

James Blake just keeps rolling along.

After two days of action in the 115th annual NCAA Men's Tennis Championship, sophomore James Blake has emerged unscathed, reaching the round of 16 in both singles and doubles competition.

Early yesterday morning, Blake-- who sports a 39-3 singles record this year and has held the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's No. 1 ranking in the nation since Dec. 8--faced off against Northwestern's Doug Bohaboy in the second round of singles play. Despite Bohaboy's valiant effort, Blake bested him in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Yesterday's meeting between Blake and Bohaboy was not their first. Earlier this season at the Blue-Gray National Team Event in Alabama, Blake defeated Bohaboy but not before surviving two match points to stay alive in the contest.

This time around, however, Blake was ready for Bohaboy, who still proved to be a tough opponent.

"I thought I played pretty well today," Blake said in the post-match press conference. "[Bohaboy] is a tough player. I've played twice in the past, and we split those two matches. This was a tough match, and I was happy to fight through and win."

Blake jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set, breaking Bohaboy twice. But Bohaboy answered by breaking Blake's serve at 4-1. Blake maintained his poise, taking the first set, 6-4.

The second set was a different story, however, as the pair battled each other point-for-point. Each broke serve early on, but neither took more than a one-game lead in the set.

"That second set was a battle the whole way," Blake said. "He certainly stepped up his game, but so did I."

Bohaboy fought to take a 6-5 lead, with Blake serving to force a tiebreaker. Bohaboy battled to deuce before Blake was able to put away the game and send it into a tiebreaker.

Once in the tiebreaker, neither player let up. With the count tied 4-4, however, Blake turned up the heat and put away three of the next four points to come away with the straight set win.

Blake, the No. 1 singles seed, also teamed with co-captain Kunj Majmudar yesterday in doubles action. The duo, which is seeded No. 2 in the tournament and ranked No. 3 by the ITA, breezed through the first round, defeating the Brigham Young tandem of Manual Calvo and Damien Ward, 6-2, 6-4.

Majmudar and Blake came out hot, taking an early two-break lead in the first set. With the score standing at 4-1, the Harvard pair had BYU on the ropes, leading 15-40 with the Cougars serving. BYU battled back, however, to take the game to cut the Crimson's lead to 4-2.

Majmudar then proceeded to hold serve to take the lead at 5-2, then the Crimson duo broke the Cougars in the final game of the set to take a 6-2 victory.

"We started off strong today," Majmudar commented. "It was a good first match for us."

The Cougars started the second set strong, but Blake and Majmudar withstood the charge and took a 5-3 lead on a service break.

BYU would not go down without a fight, however, as it broke Blake's serve to creep to within 5-4. But that was as close as it would get, as the Crimson tandem broke serve to take the set, 6-4, to close out the match.

Majmudar and Blake are now 24-8 on the season heading into tomorrow's match.

With his doubles and singles victories, Blake has ensured himself a busy day today as he will play in the doubles match as well as at least one singles match.

Blake will face unseeded Roberto Bracone of North Carolina State at 9 a.m. today in the round of 16. Bracone upset the No. 16 seed Robert Kendrick of Washington yesterday.

Should Blake defeat Bracone, he will also have to play a second singles match today at 1 p.m. for the right to advance to the final four. The time of the doubles match will be determined at the conclusion of Blake's singles match against Bracone.

Blake insists that he is focusing on both singles and doubles with equal intensity.

"Doubles is just as important to me as singles, if not more," Blake said. "I want to do well in both. It's a lot harder to lose in doubles, because you feel like you let your partner down. Playing in both is a little tiring, but it is certainly worth it."

Blake reached the second round of the tournament with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Asaf Tishler of UNLV Wednesday.

In other first round singles action, Majmudar dropped a tough 7-5 (2), 6-4 decision to No. 6 seed Mike Chmela of LSU Wednesday.

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