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Early yesterday morning, the top-seeded Harvard men’s tennis team encountered a roadblock on its run towards the ECAC Championship—its van wouldn’t start.
Fortunately, this was the only blemish on an otherwise spotless weekend for the Crimson.
Once the team van was up and running, Harvard picked up where it left off, sweeping past third-seeded Penn State to successfully defend its ECAC title. The Crimson finished the tournament with a 25-0 run in which it lost just two sets in singles and only one doubles match.
“We had a pretty good idea that we were the team to beat coming in, so it’s not too surprising that we were able to defeat all of our opponents pretty convincingly,” co-captain David Lingman said.
Harvard made short work of the Nittany Lions, defeating them 4-0 in under three hours of play.
Lingman and junior Jonathan Chu grappled fiercely at No. 1 doubles with Roddy Cantey and Clint Keithley, eventually closing out an 8-6 win. Shortly thereafter senior Chris Chiou and freshman Jack Li clinched the doubles point by beating Aaron Ellis and Brad Hunger 8-6 at No. 3.
Co-captain Cliff Nguyen and senior Mark Riddell were tied with their opponents at five games apiece when their match was suspended since the Crimson had already clinched the doubles point.
In singles, Harvard continued its dominant play.
Junior Martin Wetzel rolled over Todd Stecko at No. 4 singles with a 6-1, 6-3 victory. Chiou followed Wetzel’s win with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ryan Berger at No. 5, and then Chu clinched the match and the championship at No. 2 against Malcolm Scatliffe 6-0, 6-4.
Harvard’s defense of its ECAC title ensures it a berth at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the University of Washington in February.
Nguyen identified the positives of the four-day tournament.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t tested very much,” Nguyen said, “but this demonstrates that we have extreme talent on this team, and we hope to get momentum for the rest of the year. It’s good to have junior players like Martin and Jack doing so well. It helps to gel the team together.”
The Crimson clobbered Cornell in the semifinal on Sunday afternoon 7-0, easily taking the doubles point and dropping only one set in singles play.
On Friday, Harvard swept both singles and doubles from the Marist Red Foxes, and replicated this feat against Penn the following day.
“We’ll definitely see a much higher level of opponents later in the year,” Chiou said. “We could have lowered our level of play, but we wanted to focus on maintaining our normal high level of play.”
He claimed that the team was never really concerned with its perfect run throughout the tourney.
“It wasn’t about remaining undefeated—that was actually just a result of the focus on a high level of play,” Chiou said.
Riddell also downplayed the team’s dominance at the championship.
“To be honest, I thought we played well...not great, but well enough to win,” Riddell said. “We need to work a little bit harder, and we’ll be able to defeat anyone. There was somewhat of an emotional letdown in the final. Our intensity level was at about 80 percent. We’ve qualified for National Indoors, and if we play this way we won’t get much accomplished.”
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