Every team works for the thrill of victory. But with victory comes defeat, and this weekend, the Harvard men’s tennis team was left empty-handed.
In its opening weekend of league play, the Crimson (9-10, 0-2 Ivy) traveled to the Empire State to take on two Ivy League opponents, falling to Columbia (13-3, 3-0 Ivy), 5-2, on Friday afternoon, and to Cornell (15-6, 2-1 Ivy), 5-2, the following day.
“It’s disappointing because I think the world of this team, and it’s very hard for them to have it not go their way,” said Harvard coach Dave Fish ’72. “Everybody wants to win, and Columbia and Cornell are no different. They are thrilled...[and] you never like to make someone else’s day.”
Despite its best efforts, the Crimson found it difficult to muster momentum after losing the doubles point in both matches.
“We’ve been able to win most of our doubles points this year against even really strong teams, so it hurts to have that little bit of uncertainty,” Fish said.
CORNELL 5, HARVARD 2
The Crimson finished the weekend with a 5-2 loss to the Big Red on Saturday.
When wind speeds prior to the match wavered around the cusp of the legal limit, the coaches were faced with the choice of playing inside or outside. By remaining outside, they chose to make the wind a significant part of the game.
“The wind was a pretty big factor,” freshman Joshua Tchan said. “It was a drastic change from playing in near perfect conditions indoors [the previous day] to going outdoors.”
“It was a hard choice to make,” Fish said. “The wind just got worse and worse, and they responded better.”
To start things off, Harvard sophomore Alistair Felton and freshman Andy Nguyen defeated Cornell juniors Jonathan Jaklitsch and Mirza Klis in No. 2 doubles with an 8-3 score.
Yet two narrow 8-6 defeats earned the Big Red the doubles point and the match’s momentum, with junior Aba Omodele-Lucien and freshman Christo Schultz falling on the first court and junior Alexei Chijoff-Evans and Tchan losing on the third.
The Crimson’s two points came when No. 1 Chijoff-Evans won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, and when Tchan pulled through at third singles in a tight second set to win 6-4, 7-6.
But Harvard’s singles lineup was hindered by the absences of Nguyen and senior Michael Hayes due to injury recovery and illness, respectively, and Cornell followed with four more victories to clinch. Omodele-Lucien lost 6-1, 7-6, at No. 2, and No. 5 Schultz fell 6-3, 6-4. The Crimson’s two remaining players, Felton and sophomore Davis Mangham, lost their matches in the third set.
“It was very discouraging,” Fish said. “It wasn’t for lack of trying. We went indoors [Friday], and then outdoors [Saturday] in very adverse conditions. I think they were just big hills that they weren’t quite ready to climb.”