Escaping the Boston cold, the Harvard men’s tennis team kicked off its spring season with a dual match in Texas this past weekend. The Crimson squad did not disappoint down South, claiming a 4-3 victory over Southern Methodist University on Friday and a handy 6-1 win over University of Texas, Arlington, on Sunday.
“The team competed really well this week,” co-captain Jean Thirouin said. “Being the first match of the season, it was expected that everyone wouldn’t be playing their best tennis, but the team fought hard and showed how much work they’d put in over break.”
Highlights of the weekend included strong doubles play in both matches, with Harvard earning both doubles points, and undefeated singles play from senior Grant Solomon, sophomore Logan Weber, and rookies Robert Wrzesinski and Constantin Zoske.
“We played tough opponents and the work we all put in in the offseason really showed,” junior Andy Zhou said. “I think the guys were very fit and match ready and that paid dividends under pressure this weekend.”
HARVARD 6, UTA 1
The Crimson claimed the doubles point with a sweep from both its first and second pairs. Senior Kenny Tao and Weber defeated their UTA (0-1) opponents, No. 48 doubles pair Mauricio Del Rio and Guanarteme Nuez, 6-3, at the No. 1 spot. The duo of Thirouin and Zhou earned an uncontested 6-0 win at second doubles.
On the singles side, Harvard won all of its points against the Mavericks except at first singles. Zhou and Weber found success on the court for the second time that day, both earning straight set victories at No. 2 and No. 6, respectively. Solomon, Wrzesinski, and Zoske also took home straight-set wins for the Crimson, all three of them ending the weekend 2-0 in singles play.
HARVARD 4, SMU 3
Harvard had an exciting season opener on Friday in a close matchup against the Mustangs. SMU (1-2) entered the match with a win already under its belt, a 4-0 seep of Abilene Christian University earlier this season.
The Crimson came out strong in close doubles matches. Tao and Weber clinched a critical 7-6 tiebreaker at first doubles, saving the team four match points. Thirouin and Zhou earned a 7-5 win at the second doubles slot, while Solomon and junior Chris Morrow fell to SMU’s third doubles pair, 6-1.
Harvard went on to secure its victory with wins from Wrzesinski at No. 4 singles, Zoske at No. 6 singles, and Solomon at No. 3 singles. Solomon earned a critical tiebreaker in the first set, giving him the lead 7-6, 6-3.
“Obviously it feels great to start the season off with a couple of wins, but I think this makes us hungrier for more,” Zhou said. “It’s an awesome beginning and the guys can do even better, so I’m excited for our next matches.”
With two wins under its belt, the team has good momentum going into its spring season.
“We’re all going to need to put in more work, in the gym and on the court, and definitely put in some match time as well,” Zhou said. “There’s only so much drilling that you can do once the season is underway, and our fitness and mental readiness during competition will help us a long way.”
The Crimson will host Auburn, Wichita State, and Utah this weekend.
“Our main focus is to keep building from week to week, keep our bodies healthy, and make sure we are having fun,” Thirouin said.
—Staff writer Jamie Chen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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