With the match on a knife edge, the No. 32 Harvard men’s tennis team (3-1) needed hard-fought individual victories to have any hope of picking up the win, and that’s exactly what they got.
Buoyed by a strong doubles performance, the Crimson overcame its first loss of the season with a bounce back win on Sunday over No. 39 San Diego State (3-2) in Fort Worth, Texas. It won the contest, 5-3, in the consolation match of the ITA Kick Off tournament, hosted by Texas Christian University.
Harvard won both of the finished doubles matches, which marked the difference on the day. The Crimson and Aztecs split the six singles matches with three wins apiece.
Junior Sebastian Beltrame had a successful afternoon, registering the aforementioned comeback victory in his singles match before partnering with sophomore Kenny Tao to defeat San Diego State’s Milen Ianakiev and Marko Goles-Babic, 6-1, in doubles.
In his singles match, Beltrame dropped the first set, 4-6, to Ianakiev before responding in a big way, taking the second set, 6-1. With Ianakiev on the back foot, the Florida native kept his foot on the gas with a 6-3 victory in the deciding third set to improve to 2-1 in singles duals this season. He and Tao then compounded Ianakiev’s problems with a straightforward doubles victory.
Harvard’s next tight singles victory was achieved by sophomore Grant Solomon, who also fell in the first set, 4-6, to Aztecs freshman Cornelius Kolb. The Dallas product then found himself down, 1-4, in the second set, one break away from defeat. He righted the ship, however, winning the next five games to flip the momentum and claim victory in the second set, 6-4. Solomon finished Kolb off in the final set, 6-3, to boost the Crimson’s hopes.
Freshman Andy Zhou had a more comfortable singles win, defeating opponent Jonas Meinzer, 6-2, 6-2. The straight sets victory marked Harvard’s third victory on the day and Zhou’s third victory out of three completed dual singles matches this season.
The other three singles matches went to San Diego State, knotting up the match. Senior Nicky Hu, playing in the No. 1 position, fell to fellow senior Freddy Gelbrich. After winning the first set, 6-3, the Palo Alto native lost the next two, 3-6, 3-6. Junior Brian Yeung and Tao both lost tough matches in straight sets.
The match-clinching victory came from the doubles team of seniors Kelvin Lam and Conor Haughey, whose early breaks were erased during the course of the set. Being two experienced players, however, they overcame the setbacks with a 7-6 win, giving the Crimson its fifth and final victory necessary to close the match out.
The doubles match involving the duo of Yeung and Hu remained unfinished once Harvard secured the overall match win; they were down, 5-6, but preparing to serve for the tie.
–Staff writer Manav Khandelwal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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