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This weekend, the Harvard men’s tennis team traveled to Princeton, N.J. to compete in the ECAC Division I Indoor Championships with hopes of a repeat performance of last year’s third place finish. After an early elimination from finals play on Friday, the team ended the weekend with a 1-2 record.
Ranked as the number six seed in the tournament, the Crimson (6-4) was eliminated on Friday with a 4-2 defeat to third-ranked Princeton (4-4). The team went on to split the consolation matches, sweeping Yale (5-3) on Saturday before losing a close-fought match against Penn (6-4) on Sunday.
“Everyone fought extremely hard,” sophomore Andy Zhou said. “There were a few points up and down that didn’t go our way, but I think in the future we will be starting to see a lot of the points come in our direction.”
PENN 4, HARVARD 2
Losing the doubles point off two consecutive 7-6 tiebreaker defeats, Harvard was unable to rally back in singles play, falling 4-2 to close out the match.
The doubles pair of junior Kenny Tao and senior Brian Yeung won their third consecutive doubles match this weekend, giving the Crimson an edge at first doubles. Harvard’s second and third doubles pairs were defeated in close tiebreakers, however, ending the Crimson’s streak of three straight doubles point victories that began with last week’s blowout of Boise State.
“Overall our doubles have been improving.” junior co-captain Jean Thirouin said. “ We had a few injuries keeping us from putting up our usual lineup but everyone who played stepped up and competed really well.”
Both Zhou and junior Grant Solomon continued their solid performances from Saturday, defeating Penn’s fourth and fifth singles competitors, respectively. Sophomore Samuel Beren, in Harvard’s sixth singles slot, started off with a strong 6-3 first set win, but could not close out a second set tiebreaker, ultimately falling 6-2 in the final set. The remaining three matchups all went to three sets, but both Tao and Yeung dropped the last set of their matches, giving Penn a hard-fought victory.
HARVARD 4, YALE 0
The Crimson started the second day of competition strong on Saturday against Yale. Harvard seized the doubles point to begin the contest, with victories from the Crimson’s leading duo of Tao and Yeung as well as sophomore Christopher Morrow and freshman Logan Weber at third doubles.
“Although the score was 4-0 the overall match was much closer.” Thirouin said. “We knew they would be a tough team so we came out strong and never let up.”
In singles play, Harvard quickly executed a resounding sweep of the Bulldogs, clinching victories across the ladder. No. 2 Yeung, carrying the momentum from a strong doubles performance, led the Crimson to its first singles point with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Yale freshman Dylan King. Zhou followed, delivering Harvard’s second single point with a 6-3, 6-3 win.
“I’m getting a good feeling of what that feels like and what it takes to win points effectively and efficiently,” Zhou said. “I came back pretty strong as there was a lot of motivation for me coming off that loss to Princeton, and I was definitely very focused on the court.”
With a three-set victory by Solomon in the fifth singles, the Crimson emerged victorious.
PRINCETON 4, HARVARD 2
On Friday, Harvard first fell in the opening round of the ECAC Championships against the third-seeded Princeton. A strong 6-4 win from co-captain Sebastian Beltrame and Thirouin at second doubles was followed by a victory from Tao and Yeung at first doubles.
Tao went on to claim a victory at first singles as well, in a 6-4, 6-1 win over Tiger senior Alex Day. Other than Tao’s win, however, Princeton swept the remaining singles matches. Only Beren, at sixth singles, managed to push his match into the third set, as Yeung, Zhou, and Solomon all fell in straight sets.
“I had a rough start to the weekend and lost a hard-fought one to Princeton,” Zhou said. “I think it was due to getting used to the conditions and having first-day jitters.”
It was with this defeat that the team was eliminated from finals contention, unable to follow up on last year’s third place finish in the same tournament.
The Crimson looks to bounce back next Sunday as it hosts Memphis and Boston University home at the Murr Tennis Center.
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