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Men's Tennis Picks Up Two Weekend Victories

By Justin C. Wong, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard men’s tennis team continued its strong run of late, further building up for its main spring season as it earned a weekend sweep. On Saturday, the Crimson easily dispatched St. John’s and local rival Boston University at the Murr Center.

Harvard (11-3), which has won six of its last seven matches, is currently ranked 22nd in the country, marking the Crimson’s highest ranking since April of 2013.

“Whenever you get two wins in a day, it’s a good thing,” senior Shaun Chaudhuri said. “With doubleheaders, you have to stay focused throughout the day…. We’re really happy with the way the team competed.”

HARVARD 6, BU 1

In Saturday’s second contest, the Crimson took down the Terriers (2-1, 1-0 Patriot), despite starting mostly backup players.

In doubles, Harvard easily won all three matches. Junior Conor Haughey and sophomore Andrew Ball won, 6-4, on the third court, while co-captain Alex Steinroeder and freshman Kenny Tao moved up to court two, but still cruised, 6-1. Sophomore Sebastian Beltrame and freshman Jean Thirouin prevailed by the same score in the top slot.

The Crimson carried the momentum over to singles, where it won the first three matches to clinch the match early. Junior Kelvin Lam, sophomore Andrew Ball, and Chaudhuri all took their respective contests in straight sets to clinch the win for Harvard.

Playing up at number one, sophomore Brian Yeung came back from a first-set loss to win in three, and freshman Xavier Gonzalez was credited with a win on court six.

Harvard freshman Grant Solomon took the Crimson’s only loss, going down in three sets in the third slot.

“Doubleheaders give a chance to those who don’t get to play in as many matches,” Chaudhuri said. “The team prides itself on its depth. Everyone has to be ready to play every day.”

HARVARD 4, ST. JOHN’S 0

In Saturday’s early match, the Crimson rolled to a 4-0 victory over the No. 74 Red Storm (4-5, 1-0 Big East). Harvard has faced St. John’s every spring for each of the past four seasons, and has defeated the Red Storm each time.

The Crimson earned the doubles point by picking up wins on the second and third courts.  Haughey and Ball won, 7-5, in the third slot, while Beltrame and junior Nicky Hu took a 6-3 victory.

In singles, Harvard rolled out its top lineup, and showcased its strength from top to bottom. The Crimson men captured four first sets to set themselves in prime position.

The match finished quickly, as Yeung won, 6-4, 6-3, Hu prevailed, 6-4, 7-5, and co-captain Denis Nguyen, ranked 47th nationally, closed out the match, 6-2, 7-5.

While Harvard made quick work of its two opponents on Saturday, the team’s three defeats this season have come at the hands of three ranked teams: Berkeley, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern.

However, the team does not see its losses against top competition as a weakness, according to Crimson coach Dave Fish.

“It’s not really an issue, especially since the matches were so close [The Crimson lost to the Commodores and Wildcats by the same 4-3 margin]…. It hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm,” Fish said. “Some people played spectacularly in those matches. These matches are excruciatingly close—[the equivalent of] a three-point shot at the buzzer.”

And even with the close calls against top teams, Fish has seen progress and consistency from his squad.

“The team has done a really good job at being consistent, whether we’ve won or lost matches,” Fish said. “You have the feeling that everyone out there knew what he was doing and wasn’t going to get thrown off, and that builds a lot of confidence for the team.”

From here, Harvard has a two-week break to gear up for its annual spring break trip.

“Now, we’ll take two weeks to just work on our games,” Chaudhuri said. “During most of the season, we can’t take a two-week period to work on specific areas. But now we have time to increase our conditioning, work on technical components of our games, and get some rest mentally and physically.”

—Staff writer Justin C. Wong can be reached at justin.wong@thecrimson.com.

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