Nguyen is part of the 17th-ranked double team that posted two wins (photo courtsey: Gil Talbot).
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The No. 26 Harvard men's tennis team opened up its 2014 season at the 2014 ITA Kickoff Weekend where the Crimson narrowly fell to No. 13 Mississippi State, 4-3 before dropping a, 4-0, decision to No. 18 South Carolina.
On Saturday, the Crimson faced Mississippi State in a tough back and forth battle. On the doubles court, No. 17 ranked duo of Junior Denis Nguyen and senior Casey MacMaster cruised to a 6-4 victory over the Bulldogs' No. 52 Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp in the No. 1 doubles match. On court two, the tandem of sophomore Nicky Hu and freshman Brian Yeung topped Egbert Weverink and Zach White, 6-2 to claim the doubles point.
Mississippi State gained momentum after three singles victories to give the Bulldogs a, 3-1, lead. Hu fell to Schmid, 6-1, 6-5 on court six while Shaun Chaudhuri lost to No. 39 Malte Stropp, 6-3, 6-2 on court two. No. 81 Beltrame took down Jordan Angus 6-3 in the first set before Angus came back to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Nguyen, the 44th-ranked player in the ITA singles poll, toppled No. 63 Florian Lakat in the No. 1 contest, 6-5, 6-2. On court five, rookie Andrew Ball dropped the opening set, 6-3 before rallying in the second, 6-2, to force the third set. Ball posted a 6-3 win in the final set over Rishab Agarwal for the point, evening the match score at three.
In the remaining contest on court four, Steinroeder struggled in the first set, falling 6-4, but the junior was able to compose himself and post a 6-5 win over White to force a third set. The Concord, Mass., native could not outlast his opponent dropping the deciding set, 6-3.
On Sunday, Harvard faced South Carolina. After dropping the doubles point, the Crimson was unable to hold off the Gamecocks in singles play.
The tandem of Nguyen and MacMaster led the charge in doubles, posting a, 6-2, win over No. 24 Chip Cox and Kyle Koch in the match on court one. However, South Carolina claimed wins on court two and three to take an early, 1-0 lead. The Gamecocks' Tsvetan Mihov and Thiago Pinheiro topped Hu and Yeung, 6-3, while Beltrame and Kelvin Lam could not outlast Andrew Adams and Andrew Schafer, 6-5.
South Carolina's momentum carried over to singles court as the Gamecocks posted three straight wins to clinch the match. On court six, Ball fell to No. 91 Schafer, 6-5, 6-1, while Beltrame dropped a 6-3, 6-5 decision to Adams. Steinroeder surrendered a hard-fought 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to Cox at the No. 5 slot.
Nguyen, Harvard's top-ranked singles player, was one game away from taking down No. 41 Mihov on court one, as he led 6-5, 5-0 before the match was suspended.
Harvard returns to action, Feb. 8-9 when the Crimson takes on Minnesota and Tulsa.