Kicking off the first matches of the spring season, the Harvard men’s tennis team claimed silver in the Crimson Kickoff and a victory against NJIT.
Furman, Old Dominion, and University of San Francisco all traveled to Cambridge on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to compete in the Crimson Kickoff at the Murr Center Tennis Courts. Following the competitions, the Crimson took on the New Jersey Institute of Technology in a separate duel.
“This is the beginning of of a wild journey and that for us is exciting and motivating,” junior Grant Solomon said. “We put in tons of work this J-term on campus, working on not only becoming better tennis players, but [also] seeing our tennis training as a path to becoming the best human beings we can be.”
On Saturday, Harvard (2-1) started the the spring season and the Crimson Kickoff with a strong 6-1 victory against the Furman Paladins (0-2). Opening the season with some doubles play, the team dropped only one match in the three total doubles competitions.
Representing the Crimson in the number one position were senior Brian Yeung and junior Kenny Tao, who completed their match victory with a 6-2 win. The pair was the only doubles team featured in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll.
The number two seed was the other doubles team to win for Harvard. The captain Sebastian Beltrame and junior captain Jean Thirouin defeated their Furman competitors, 6-4. The pair of sophomores, Michael Peters and Andy Zhou lost 7-6 (7-5) against third-seeded opponents.
In singles competition, the Crimson mirrored its success in doubles by winning all but one match. It was only in the fifth seed that Harvard faced a loss, with Solomon falling in the third set 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
At the number two, three and four seeds, the Crimson faced close matches with every victory coming down to three sets. However, the number one and six seeded Beltrame and Zhou handled their opponents in two.
Facing Old Dominion (5-0) in the championship round of the Crimson Kickoff on Sunday, Harvard lost 4-0.
Captain doubles partners Beltrame and Thirouin won their matchup, their second of the weekend, against the number one seed from the Big Blue, 7-6 (7-5). The other groups of doubles partners fell, awarding their opponents the first point of the matchup.
“ODU was definitely the strongest of the three teams,” Tao said. “That being said, we had a lot of chances in doubles, and it really could have gone either way. We also had a few very close singles matches, and still while the score wasn’t exactly close, the matches were. The ODU team had a couple more matches under their belt this season, and I think we were missing some of that match experience. Furman and NJIT simply were weaker teams.”
In singles play, only Tao and Yeung had a shot at winning their matches with scores of 6-3, 6-5 and 7-6, 4-3, respectively. However, before they could claim their wins, the losses from the rest of the matches had piled up to an insurmountable 4-0 deficit.
Beltrame was again seeded number one and took on No. 24 Adam Moudir of Old Dominion. The Florida native lost 7-5, 6-3.
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In the second matchup of the day, the Crimson took on NJIT (0-1), effectively handing the opponent its first loss of the season.
The doubles teams started off the matchup by sweeping their opponents. Seeded number one for the Crimson, Yeung and Tao led the competition with a strong 6-4 victory. In the number two slot, Peters and Zhou headed to a tie-breaker after a 6-6 game count. They would take the tie breaker 7-5. The number three seeded sophomore Christopher Morrow and freshman Logan Weber won in a decisive 6-2 match.
The singles were almost as dominant, dropping only a single match to the Highlanders. Harvard won all of the top three seeded competitions. The first came from Thirouin with 6-3, 6-1 victories. Solomon followed in suit with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 performance. In a closer competition, the third seeded freshman, Weber, won as well, 6-4, 7-5. Both Peters and sophomore Samuel Beren won their matches as well with a pair of 6-2 and 6-1 games, respectively.
“This weekend above all was inspiring. We gained great experience and competition with several great programs,” Solomon said. “Life is about expectation management, entitled to nothing, grateful for everything and that's where we are finding our inspiration and encouragement moving into next week's big matches. We just had an appetizer and are ready for the main course.”
—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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