Junior Andy Nguyen made his prescence felt from the No. 6 position, as he was one of four Harvard players to prove victorious in singles play against Virginia Tech. (Gil Talbot)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 24 Harvard men's tennis lost team the doubles points but used three singles wins and a late medical forfeit to advance to the second round of the 2012 NCAA men's tennis tournament at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday morning. The match was once again clinched by the efforts of freshman Denis Nguyen who outlasted his opponent in the third set to help to lead the Crimson to the postseason victory.
In doubles play senior Alistair Felton and sophomore Casey MacMaster opened up a healthy 3-0 lead against Degl'Incerti Tocci and Somen, and were able to carry that momentum throughout the match, downing the Hokies duo, 8-5. Freshman Denis Nguyen and junior Andy Nguyen found themselves with an early 5-2 deficit but stormed back scoring three-straight points to make it 5-5. The Virginia Tech team of Koontz and Kujundzic were able to turn the tide back in their favor however, winning the next three points to defeat "team Nguyen", 8-5. With the doubles point on the line, Harvard and Virginia Tech looked to the deciding match of Jon Pearlman and Christo Schultz vs. Daciek and Oliveira. Much like "team Nguyen," Schultz and Perlman erased a two-point deficit by scoring straight points to make it 6-6. With both teams looking on, it was Daciek and Oliveira who prevailed, outlasting the Harvard tandem, 8-6. The Hokies headed to singles play up 1-0.
Virgnia Tech took a 2-0 lead in the match after Patrick Daciek downed Schultz, 6-0, 6-2. Harvard struck back as Andy Nguyen made short work of Kujundzic, 6-4, 6-2. Freshman Alex Steinroeder followed suit out of the No. 5 position also winning in two sets, 6-2, 6-4. Freshman Shaun Chaudhuri gave Harvard its first lead of the afternoon as he won a three-set battle with Corrado Degl'Incerti Tocci, defeating the senior from Reggio Emilia, Italy, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. With the score 3-2, Harvard had two more matches to earn one victory for the win. Denis Nguyen was locked in a battle with Oliveira which had reached the third set, while Pearlman was entrenched in his own duel with Luka Somen.
In Denis Nguyen's match, the freshman from Anaheim Calif., battled from being down early in the first set to come back and take it 6-3. In the second stanza it was Oliveira's turn to battle back, as Nguyen had the Hokies player on the ropes with a 6-5 mark. Oliveira fought back to tie it and force a decisive third set. In the third set Denis Nguyen opened up a 2-1 lead over Oliveira but as the match was nearing its fourth hour and with the sun beating down on Linder stadium, health concerns arose for the junior from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who began to cramp up, which forced Virginia Tech to concede the match to Harvard, giving the Crimson a 4-2 victory.
With the win, Harvard remains undefeated against Virginia Tech in the program's history, having gone a perfect 11-0 against the Hokies. This is also the first time since 2004 that Harvard has advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Crimson will attempt to travel the same path they followed in 1997 when it defeated both Virginia Tech and Florida in the first and second rounds when it advanced to the land of 16. The Crimson will wait to see who it faces in the next round as the No. 11 Gators take on Navy this afternoon. The second round match is slated for Sunday at 2 p.m.
Doubles (order of finish: 1, 3, 2*)
1. Felton/MacMaster (Harvard) def. #48 Tocci/Somen (VT), 8-5
2. *Daciek/Oliveira (VT) def. Pearlman/Schultz (Harvard), 8-6
3. Koontz/Kujundzic (VT) def. A.Nguyen/D.Nguyen (Harvard), 8-5
Singles (order of finish: 3, 6, 5, 4, 2*)
1. Jonathan Pearlman (Harvard) v. #48 Luka Somen (VT), DNF (4-6, 6-2, 0-4)
2. Denis Nguyen (Harvard) def. Lucas Oliveira (VT), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 4-1 w/d injured
3. Patrick Daciek (VT) def. Christo Schultz (Harvard), 6-0, 6-2
4. Shaun Chuadhuri (Harvard) def. Corrado Degl'Incerti Tocci (VT), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
5. Alex Steinroeder (Harvard) def. Mauricio Antun (VT), 6-2, 6-2
6. Andy Nguyen (Harvard) def. Trpimir Kujundzic (VT), 6-4, 6-2
Updated Records: Harvard 23-2; Virginia Tech 11-12
NCAA Seeding: Harvard – 17-32; Virginia Tech – 33-48
ITA National Ranking: Harvard – 24; Virginia Tech - 45