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This past weekend, the Harvard men’s tennis team kicked off its fall season by hosting the UTR Boston Open, which brought together local college players, top Boston-area juniors, as well as current and former ATP professionals.
The entire Crimson roster competed in the tournament, except for freshman Christopher Morrow and sophomores Kenny Tao and Grant Solomon, who sat with minor injuries.
The Harvard players performed well against a strong field, placing five in the quarterfinals. Two team members—co-captain Nicky Hu and junior Sebastian Beltrameadvancing as far as the semifinals.
The UTR Boston Open represented not only an opportunity for the Crimson to tune up for its fall campaign, but also served as a new, more inclusive model of tennis tournament, according to Harvard coach Dave Fish ’72, who is entering his 40th season of coaching the Crimson.
The tournament was organized around the Universal Tennis Rating system, a scale analogous to a golf handicap, that allows professionals, college competitors, juniors, and women alike to compete in the same “open” tournament.
“This tournament puts players together independent of age, but rather based on skill level,” Fish said. “Now all compete in the same competitive format. It lets less experienced players compete in the early rounds, and professionals can come in the later rounds and play for prize money. At each level, the carrot is appropriate, and the goal is to make tennis more accessible, affordable, and to have better competition for all.”
In this “open” format, Harvard placed well, as Hu and Beltrame were seeded third and fourth, respectively, in a field that included top seed, an ATP pro, and second-seeded Harshana Godamanna, who used to compete for the Sri Lankan Davis Cup squad.
“It was a pretty good weekend, especially considering how strong the number one and two seeds were,” junior Brian Yeung said. “The whole team got some good matches in.”
The Crimson, which finished second in the Ivy League, has only just begun its fall season, as it kicked off captains’ practices this past Thursday in advance of the weekend tournament.
Next weekend, Harvard will send some of the team to the Connecticut Open, and the rest will compete at the Ivy Plus Tournament at Princeton.
These early fall tournaments, and especially the Ivy Plus Tournament, where the Crimson will get its first look at its Ancient Eight competition, are primarily intended as a “freshman showcase,” according to Yeung.
Thus far, the returns for the team’s four freshmen are impressive, with Yeung singling out St. Louis, Mo., native Michael Peters as having a particularly good weekend.
Fish echoed Yeung’s sentiments about the freshman class.
“They won a lot of good matches and competed well,” Fish said. “But mostly, they got flooded early and got a taste of competition. It was a great low-key event and they will all continue to get better, but right now they’re drinking from the fire hydrant, so we don’t expect too much from them.”
—Staff writer Justin C. Wong can be reached at email@example.com.
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