Harvard will play its first Ivy home matches of the season this weekend (Photo: Dean Bauer).
After posting a 1-1 record on its first Ivy League weekend, the No. 31 Harvard men's tennis team welcomes Princeton Saturday and Penn Sunday for a pair of Ancient Eight matches.
The series between the Crimson and Tigers is one of the oldest in Harvard annals, as the teams will meet for the 94th time Saturday. Harvard holds a slim 49-44 overall lead in the series, but it was the Tigers that controlled the matchup in the early years. From the start of the series in 1925 through the 1980 season, Princeton collected 35 wins in 46 matches, including a stretch of 12 straight wins from 1940-55. Harvard took control of the series beginning in 1981, when the Crimson won 16 of the next 17 matches and put together its longest winning streak against the Tigers at 10 matches (1988-94). Harvard has won the last three meetings between the two teams, downing the Tigers, 5-2, in 2012 and 4-3 and 5-2 last season.
The Crimson and Quakers will meet for the 85th time Sunday, with Harvard holding a commanding 72-12 lead in the all-time series. Penn actually took the first ever meeting between the two teams in 1928 by a score of 5-4, but went onto drop five straight to the Crimson. Harvard put together a 37-match winning streak from 1975 to 2006 and, after the 4-3 defeat in 2007, has not lost to Penn in the last eight meetings. Last season, the Quakers pushed Harvard to the limit, taking three singles courts but relinquishing the doubles point in a tiebreaker on the first court in a 4-3 defeat.
Last Time Out
A day removed from a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Columbia, the Harvard men's tennis team rebounded in strong fashion, taking down No. 46 Cornell, 5-2, Sunday on its home courts.
The doubles duos finally gelled for the Crimson Sunday, yielding wins on all three doubles courts to secure the opening point of the match. Harvard's top team of No. 11 Denis Nguyen and Casey MacMaster disposed of Jason Luu and Quoc-Daniel Nguyen, 8-5, to set the tone. The second team of Nicky Hu and Brian Yeung and the third tandem of Sebastian Beltrame and Christo Schultz both collected 8-6 wins to complete the sweep for Harvard.
Alex Steinroeder put forth the strongest singles effort of the day for Harvard, downing Alex Sidney, 6-2, 6-3, at the fourth position for Harvard's second point of the match. Luu took down rookie Andrew Ball, 6-1, 6-1 at No. 6, but Yeung collected a straight-set victory of his own at No. 5, 7-6, 6-3 over Chris Vrabel. Beltrame needed three sets to close out Stefan Vinti on the second court, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, as did junior Shaun Chaudhuri at No. 3 against Casares Rose, 6-7, 6-1, 6-3. Denis Nguyen dropped a third set tiebreaker against Sam Fleck in a 7-6, 5-7, 10-7 defeat in the final match of the day.
About The Crimson
Despite the Ivy-opening loss to Columbia, the No. 31 Crimson still has its eyes set on a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Denis Nguyen has maintained his position in the top 40 nationally, coming in at No. 39 in the most recent ITA singles rankings with an 8-3 record in dual matches. He and doubles partner Casey MacMaster came in at No. 15 in the doubles rankings, and Harvard's second team of Nicky Hu and Brian Yeung also appeared in the rankings at No. 78. As a team, the Crimson has posted winning records at four of six singles positions, highlighted by a 12-4 mark at fifth singles. The Crimson boasts a 52-38 overall singles record and a 29-22 mark in dual doubles action this season.
The Tigers are having a strong season through 20 matches, boasting a 12-8 overall record, a 2-1 Ivy mark and a no. 59 ranking in the ITA poll. After a 4-1 loss to Penn in its Ivy opener, Princeton rebounded with a 6-1 win over Yale and a 4-3 victory against Brown. Zack McCourt continues to hold down the top singles position for Princeton and he holds a 9-6 record in dual matches this season, all from the No. 1 position. Josh Yablon has amassed the most singles wins of anyone on the squad with 12, playing primarily in the third and fourth slots. Thomas Colautti has also reached the 10-win mark in the dual season, picking up wins at the first, second and third positions. Yablon and Colautti combine to form Princeton's most successful doubles team with 12 wins at the third position.
Through 16 dual matches this season, the Quakers are 6-10, but picked up wins in two of their first three Ivy matches. A 4-1 win over Princeton started the Ivy slate off right for Penn, and a 4-2 win over Brown pushed its record to 2-0, before dropping a 4-2 decision to Yale. Jeremy Court returns as one of Penn's top singles threats, seeing action in the top two singles slots this spring, while Vim De Alwis has collected wins towards the top of the singles lineup as well. Rookie Matt Nardella has proven to be a welcome addition to the Quaker lineup, collecting 11 singles wins this spring from the middle of the Penn singles lineup. The rookie tandem of Nardella and Marshall Sharp has combined to form Penn's top doubles team this season.
The Crimson has its final road test of the season April 18 when it travels to Brown for an Ivy showdown.