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Men's Tennis Sweeps the Weekend, Bests No. 13 Duke and No. 44 Northwestern

The Harvard men's tennis team bested two difficult teams this past weekend.
The Harvard men's tennis team bested two difficult teams this past weekend. By Sarah G. Erickson
By Lauren K. Choy and Daniel Hochberg, Crimson Staff Writers

The No. 8 Harvard men’s tennis (8-4) team posted two key victories this past weekend, defeating a storied No.13 Duke (9-5) program, and besting the No. 44 Northwestern University (5-9) Wildcats for the fifth time in a row.

Harvard 4, Duke 3

Harvard men’s tennis clinched a narrow victory over Duke in a hard fought 4-3 match on Friday at the Murr Center. Bouncing back after a mixed performance at ITA indoor nationals, the Crimson returned to form with its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season.

Doubles proved to be a highlight for the Crimson squad. At the one spot, freshman Cooper Williams and junior Daniel Milavsky went down a break early to the Blue Devil’s Garrett Johns and Pedro Rodenas. The Crimson team was unable to recover from the early slip, and Duke finished off the pair 6-4. Despite going down a break as well, the Crimson pairing of junior David Lins and senior Henry von der Schulenburg rattled off four straight games, including two breaks of its own, to tie up the doubles series and take down Faris Khan and Connor Krug 6-4.

With doubles-play tied at one game apiece, all eyes turned to court two. An impressive performance from seniors Ronan Jachuck and Alan Yim at the two spot saw the pair defeat the No. 21 nationally-ranked duo of Michael Heller and Andrew Zhang, 6-4. Jachuck secured the doubles victory with a clutch service game, and a Duke miscommunication on the final point sent Harvard into the singles matches with a 1-0 advantage.

Jachuck – who is 7-3 on the season – continued his winning ways, defeating Connor Krug of Duke 6-2, 6-2 on court 4. With massive support from the fans, Ronan rode the crowd to a highly controlled victory that put Harvard up to an early 2-0 lead.

Milavsky, who currently ranks No. 116 nationally in singles, couldn’t be stopped en route to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Andrew Zhang on court 3. Milavsky has only dropped one match all season, and continues to use his impressive strength and serving to great effect. Following his win, Harvard was solidly in the driver's seat, up 3-0 with four matches left to go.

Unfortunately, freshman phenom and the No. 11 ITA singles player, Williams wasn’t able to secure the win on court 1. He came out shaky, and never regained control against no. 64 Garrett Johns, who took a 6-2, 6-4 victory. This bought Duke just a bit more life, although unless you are the 2016 Cavs, a 3-1 lead typically proves insurmountable.

On court 6, Duke continued to fight, taking down the Crimson’s sophomore hitter Valdemar Pape 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. After being solidly handled in the first set, Alexander Visser returned with a vengeance to defeat the sophomore. With the loss, Harvard’s lead shrunk to just one point.

The crimson clinched a win on court 5 with sophomore Melchior Delloye securing the victory with a supercharged final set. He took the win over Jake Krug 6-3, 1-6, 6-0. After a slow, attritional battle in the first, the two traded off two quick sets. Delloye proved he wanted it more in the end, coming through clutch to put the Blue Devils to bed for the day.

The squad narrowly bested No. 13 Duke in a 4-3 victory.
The squad narrowly bested No. 13 Duke in a 4-3 victory. By Sarah G. Erickson

“The match got close in singles, but we all trust our guys in third sets, and Melchior came through for us to clinch as he’s done so many times this season,” junior Elisha Thornton said.

No. 118 ranked ITA singles player von der Schulenburg remained on court though, fighting for supremacy against no. 31 Pedro Rodenas of Duke. Two quick sets were split, but then a protracted affair in the third unfortunately led to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 Harvard loss.

“Duke is an excellent team we have a lot of respect for, and they come out with a ton of energy,” Thornton added. “But I think our guys did a great job of staying steady when they needed to and when chances were there, going for it and taking them.”

On the whole, a strong team performance led to a wire-to-wire win for the Crimson in the first match of the weekend, with no. 44 Northwestern (5-8) on their way to play Sunday at noon.

Harvard 4, Northwestern 0

During Sunday’s matchup against No. 44 Northwestern University, the Crimson swept the Wildcats—a satisfying end to the weekend and the team’s fifth time in a row defeating Northwestern.

“We played Northwestern once already this season, so we knew to expect a very good team that was going to compete super hard,” Thornton said.

The squad will be on the road for its next few matches.
The squad will be on the road for its next few matches. By Sarah G. Erickson

It was clear from the very start of the match that the Crimson squad was confident and ready to dominate, and that it was ready to continue its winning streak against the Wildcats. The team easily clinched the doubles point as the No. 7 doubles pair of Milavsky and Williams came out strong on court one with a 6-2 defeat, which was shortly thereafter followed by Lins and von der Schulenburg’s 6-3 win to secure the point.

“Our guys played an excellent doubles point, and we were able to play really solid, fundamental tennis to close it out,” the Palm Beach, Fla. native added.

After quickly sweeping the doubles matches, Harvard headed into singles play with a clear drive and anticipation to dominate once again.

Despite securing a few easy victories early on, the Crimson hit a rough start as singles matches began. On court one, Williams lost his first set 6-3 to Northwestern’s Presley Thieneman. Over on court 4, Jachuck lost his first set 6-4 as well.

Pape proved to be a bright spot from the start of his match, bringing a much needed boost of energy for the Crimson. Pape quickly defeated the Wildcats’ Chad Miller, winning his sets 6-1 and 6-3 and putting Harvard up 2-0. Pape has been crucial to the Crimson’s success this season.

The energy from Pape’s win seemed to visibly affect the demeanor of his fellow Crimson players, turning the tide for Jachuck and Williams after their slower starts.At the two spot, von der Schulenburg steamrolled over his Northwestern opponent Gleb Blekher in straight sets, winning a close opening set 7-5, before asserting his dominance and taking the second 6-2.

Milavsky closed off the sweep for Harvard tennis at the No. 3 position with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Saiprakash Goli of Northwestern.

Although these matches concluded the Crimson’s 4-0 victory, there were strong performances on other courts that did not finish.

After a two-week hiatus, the squad is set to compete against a number of challenging California programs.
After a two-week hiatus, the squad is set to compete against a number of challenging California programs. By Sarah G. Erickson

At the No. 4 spot, Jachuck originally lost the first set 4-6 but as the game concluded, Jachuck was coming back from behind—winning his second set 5-4.

On court one, Williams took a surprising hit in his first set, losing 3-6. Nevertheless, tensions remained high throughout the second as Williams and his opponent, Presley Thieneman, remained gridlocked; the game was announced complete as Williams and Thieneman battled for an intense second set that was tied 5-5.

At the No. five position, Delloye was looking to win with a straight set. He won his first set 6-4, and he was leading his second set 5-4 before the game finished.

“Super excited to get the wins against two great teams this past weekend. We have gotten better with each match we have played and I still feel like the best is yet to come for our team,” Yim said. “We have a few weeks off before our spring break trip so we will use this time to recharge and get a good training block in so we can best prepare ourselves for the second half of the season.”

Capping off the weekend with two wins, the Crimson now has a break from action. Following two off-weeks, the Crimson will travel to California on March 12 where it will face off against the University of California Santa Barbara (3-2), California Lutheran University (4-1), No. 70 Pepperdine University (2-6), and No. 26 University of California, Los Angeles (5-2).

In the next couple of weeks leading up to their trip across the country, Harvard tennis will have time to rest, reflect, and prepare for their upcoming games.

—Staff writer Lauren Choy can be reached at

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