Brian Yeung clinched the match for Harvard against Auburn Saturday (Harvard Athletic Communications).
NORMAN, Okla. – For the first time in six matches the Crimson was unable to wrangle the doubles point, but a stellar showing from the singles crew saw the No. 31 Harvard men's tennis team take down No. 42 Auburn, 4-1, in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA tournament Saturday. The win is Harvard's third straight, first-round NCAA victory, and will pit the Crimson against the winner of the Montana/Oklahoma match Sunday.
Harvard ups its NCAA record to 16-22 all time with the victory, and collects its 10th win of the season against a nationally-ranked opponent. It also marks Harvard's fourth straight win over the Tigers, upping its all-time record to 4-1 against Auburn.
Harvard's doubles duos on the first and third courts started strong, picking up early breaks and holding serve to gain early edges. Nicky Hu and Brian Yeung fell behind 3-0 on the second doubles court, but battled back to get on serve midway through the match. Auburn's second duo of Dante Saleh and Dennis Lengsfeld collected one final break late in the match to down Hu and Yeung, 8-6. Not long after, Casey MacMaster and Denis Nguyen polished off a clean 8-4 win for the Crimson on the first court, taking down Auburn's Dan Cochrane and Lukas Ollert. Needing a break at 6-6, Sebastian Beltrame and Christo Schultz fought through a number of deuces but ended up dropping the game, and Beltrame was unable to hold serve in an 8-6 loss at No. 3.
The narrow doubles defeat did nothing to dispel the Crimson's hopes of a victory, and it showed when all six first sets of singles went to the Crimson. Hu was punishing at No. 6, blazing through the first set, 6-0, and leveling the match at 1-1 with a quick 6-0, 6-3 final over Oliver Plaskett. Singles specialist Shaun Chaudhuri employed his methodical groundstroke game, but mixed in a handful of surprising volleys to keep Lengfeld off balance in a dominant, 6-1, 6-2, victory on the third court, giving Harvard the match lead at 2-1. Alex Steinroeder put Harvard within one point of the victory, mixing paces and spins effectively in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Joseph Van Dooren at No. 4.
Beltrame and Nguyen dropped second sets at second and first singles, respectively, but Yeung found himself in a battle for the second set at No. 5. A strong service game gave Yeung a 6-5 edge in the second stanza, but Auburn's Saleh forced a tiebreaker with a service hold in the next game. Yeung quickly regained focus and humbled Saleh in the tiebreaker, polishing off a 6-3, 7-6 (0) victory with a blistering backhand return from just behind the service line, sealing the 4-1 win for Harvard.
Harvard 4, Auburn 1
1. Lukas Ollert, Auburn (19-12) vs. Dennis Nguyen, Harvard (21-8), 3-6, 6-3, 5-1, DNF
2. Dan Cochrane, Auburn (24-8) vs. Sebastien Beltrame, Harvard (22-12), 4-6, 7-5, 1-1, DNF
3. Shaun Chadhuri, Harvard (19-12) def. Dennis Lengsfeld, Auburn (15-11), 6-1, 6-2
4. Alex Steinroeder, Harvard (19-9) def. Joseph Van Dooren, Auburn (14-10), 6-3, 6-1
5. Brian Yeung, Harvard (21-9) def. Dante Saleh, Auburn (19-12), 6-3, 7-6 (0)
6. Nicky Hu, Harvard (12-9) def. Oliver Plaskett, Auburn (7-4), 6-0, 6-3
1. Nguyen/MacMaster, Harvard (21-10) def. Cochrane/Ollert, Auburn (0-1), 8-4
2. Lengsfeld/Saleh, Auburn (1-0) def. Hu/Yeung, Harvard (21-11), 8-6
3. Van Dooren/Plaskett, Auburn (1-0) def. Beltrame/Schultz, Harvard (14-4), 8-6