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M. Tennis Can't Get Past Top Competition to Open West Coast Swing

BREAKING UP
William L. Jusino

Senior Cliff Nguyen, shown in earlier action, and the Harvard men's tennis team dropped three matches to tough competition during its West Coach road trip over Spring Break.

Think about spring break in California, and you’ll think of beaches. Of sun. Of relaxation. But for the No. 15 Harvard men’s tennis team, spring break in California proved somewhat less agreeable. The Crimson (9-5) fell to No. 34 California last Monday and to No. 9 Stanford on Tuesday, a quite unpleasant start to the squad’s annual west-coast trip.

“Most of [the individual matches] could have gone either way,” said associate coach Peter Mandeau, “but they didn’t fall our way.”

The matches did provide Harvard with some positives—most notable among them the solid play of senior Chris Chiou—but ultimately, the 4-3 and 5-2 losses were decidedly disappointing.

STANFORD 5, HARVARD 2

Entering the matchup with a top-10 ranking, Stanford (12-3, 2-0 Pac-10) promised to be a formidable Crimson foe. The Cardinal had lost only one of its last eight matches, and all three of its defeats came at the hands of teams which are currently also in the top 10. And the team’s home venue matches its record.

“Stanford is notorious for having hecklers,” junior Jonathan Chu explained, “and that just added to the difficulty of being on the road.”

Harvard fought fiercely in the doubles competition, losing two of the three matches 8-6. And though the senior duo of Chiou and co-captain Cliff Nguyen took the third contest 8-5—and improved to a perfect 5-0 record together—the Cardinal took the doubles point.

“It’s a combination that meshed immediately from the first time they stepped on the court,” Mandeau said of the veteran pair. “They’re both seniors, and their personalities go together really well, and their game styles have meshed up really well together.”

The ball wasn’t bouncing the Crimson’s way on Tuesday, however, and Harvard struggled in singles play as well.

Co-captain and No. 27 David Lingman fell to Stanford’s No. 23 Sam Warburg in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. Senior Mark Riddell also lost a tight 7-6, 6-3 match, and though freshman Jack Li took Cardinal captain Carter Morris to three sets, Li ultimately dropped his match as well, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Also losing for Harvard was Nguyen, who had the misfortune of facing Stanford’s James Wan, a freshman who is now riding a 15-match win streak.

“Everyone fought hard today,” Chu said in defense of his teammates, adding, “Cliffy was playing some guy who’s been playing unbelievably this year.”

Chu managed to take an impressive 7-5, 7-6 victory from All-American K.C. Corkery—a win Mandeau deemed “really good for him”—and Chiou also prevailed. His victory came in an easier 6-3, 6-2 fashion, though, as the senior took all four of his matches in the two days of competition.

“He stuck to his game plan,” Mandeau said. “He stuck to being aggressive the whole time, and he was a huge presence on the court for both matches. He just did a great job.”

CALIFORNIA 4, HARVARD 3

After two weekends without a dual match, Harvard appeared ready to take on the Golden Bears (6-10, 2-3 Pac-10) on Monday. And as the score indicates, the Crimson came close.

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