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There aren’t many Crimson sporting events where cheers are aimed at the Harvard Business School. But at last weekend’s February Men’s Open, the presence of that distinguished institution was sizeable—and, as shouts of “C’mon, B-School!” rang through the Murr Center, quite audible as well.
The tournament, which drew undergraduate Harvard team members as well as former collegiate players and professionals, seemed the perfect place for HBS students to continue their old tennis careers and have some fun in the process.
Out of a slew of HBS players, the doubles team of Philip Tseng ’98 and Gog Boonswang—both of whom are scheduled to graduate from the B school in 2004—stole the show.
“It was very nostalgic coming back and playing,” said Tseng, a former undergraduate and Crimson player. “It was great being back in competition. I definitely missed being in the heat of battle.”
Though Tseng and Boonswang—who graduated from Princeton in 1996—had been adversaries during their undergraduate years, Boonswang swore that the rivalry is over.
“Phil and I are good friends, and we competed against each other in [college],” Boonswang said. “But we have a regular game here at the business school, so we’re good buddies.”
“Since we played doubles together, we had to join forces,” he added.
As a pair to be feared on the “HBS Has-Beens”—an affectionately-dubbed team featuring players with varsity letters from Michigan, Princeton, Harvard and Stanford—the duo enjoyed success over the Crimson’s Jason Beren and Gideon Valkin in December at the Murr.
“[Harvard has] been really supportive because we hit with those guys once in a while, so we got to know them,” Boonswang said. “We have a good relationship.”
This rapport could be clearly seen when the Crimson team members jokingly cheered, “Let’s go, HBS!” across the courts.
“I really enjoyed playing amongst the other Harvard tennis team guys, the undergrads,” Tseng said. “[They] were still yelling, ‘Go Harvard, go HBS,’ just to pump me up, and that camaraderie that I had back when I was competing as an undergraduate was still very much evident.”
The smiles and laughter between points were a testament to the grad students’ enjoyment. However, the duo was knocked out in the second round with a 2-6, 6-1, 1-6 loss.
Might the pair seek revenge in the March Men’s Open, also to be held in Cambridge?
“We intend on it, yes,” Tseng said.
“Phil and I are going to try to play a bit more before the next tournament,” Boonswang answered separately, “and hopefully we can have a better result.”
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
Freshman Jack Li earned himself a singles crown on Sunday, but his wallet didn’t grow any thicker in the process. As a collegiate athlete and thus an amateur, Li must adhere to the NCAA regulations which prohibit such players from earning prize money in such events.
The Open was a USTA-sanctioned event, featuring collegiate players as well as professionals. Competitors in the latter category would be entitled to a $600 prize for the singles title and a $400 prize for the runner-up, as well as a $200 prize for the doubles championship.
But the Crimson swept the events—Li took the singles title, defeating his teammate, senior Chris Chiou, while in the doubles draw the junior-sophomore pairing of Jonathan Chu and Brandon Chiu were victorious. Thus, no money was awarded.
“We’re used to that,” Chiu said. “It’s a rule to we’ve got to abide [by].”
As a result of the rule, the money not conferred entered a pool used to reimburse amateur players for expenses incurred during the tournament. Assistant coach Peter Mandeau indicated that such expenses would be “minimal” for Harvard players, as the students live within walking distance of the courts and do not stay in hotels. The Crimson winners could claim the stringing of rackets or meals missed, but the odds of recovering $600 in expenses for the weekend are slim.
While there are hints in the air of spring approaching, there’s nothing like a trip to sunny Florida to remind a Harvard student just how cold Cambridge really is. The No. 21 Crimson will travel next weekend to Bradenton, site of the renowned Bollettieri Tennis Academy, to meet No. 29 Auburn.
This marks the first dual meet for the Crimson after this past weekend’s Open, and of the next five on Harvard’s list, four are against ranked teams.
Topping the list is an end-of-March tour of the Golden State during which the squad will take on No. 11 California and No. 3 Stanford.
While a win over Auburn might not affect the national rankings as significantly as would victories over the Bears or the Cardinal, this weekend’s contest could certainly be a momentum-builder. The Crimson enters Sunday’s match-up riding a mini-streak of two come-from-behind wins, while the Tigers travel to Florida winless in the past two weeks.
“[It will be the] first time playing outdoors,” Chiu said. “But we’re playing well and [have been] working well as a team for the last couple of matches, so we’re pretty confident.”
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