CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After a number of closely contested sets throughout today's match, the No. 26 Harvard men's tennis team triumphed over Northwestern, 4-3, at the Murr Center Tennis Courts. Heading into a two week break on a high note, the Crimson moves to 12-2 this season.
"This team has a lot of experience and a deep commitment to each other and they can draw from that well in close matches," stated associate head coach Andrew Rueb. "We talk a lot about energy and commitment and today's match was a perfect example of what it takes to pull through against the top teams."
Despite a 6-3 win at the No. 2 spot for the Crimson from doubles tandem Christopher Morrow and Grant Solomon, Northwestern controlled the remaining sets on courts one and three. Logging 6-4 wins on both courts, the Wildcats earned the first point of the match.
In singles, Northwestern went up 2-0 after a 6-3, 6-2 win in the No. 6 spot. Harvard answered right away with two quick back-to-back wins of its own to tie the score. Freshman Robert Wrzesinski put the Crimson on the board first with a huge 6-1, 7-6 win in a 14-12 second-set tiebreak at the No. 5 spot. Moments later, senior co-captain Jean Thirouin tied the score at 2-2 with a 7-5, 6-3 win on court three.
The Wildcats took a 3-2 lead after picking up a third set win (4-6, 7-5, 6-2) in the No. 4 spot. With the match on the line, senior co-captain Kenny Tao kept the Crimson's chances alive after a thrilling 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win over Northwestern's No. 1 spot to knot the score at 3-3.
With the score tied at three apiece, it came down to junior Andy Zhou on court two. Zhou won his first set 7-5, but dropped his second 5-7 to set up the deciding third set. Zhou closed out the match with a 6-2 win in set three, clinching an exciting 4-3 victory for the Crimson.
"It is always a steep uphill climb when you lose the doubles point, but the team was undaunted, said Rueb. "The energy was excellent from the entire squad even when things weren't going our way."
"Robert did a terrific job of finding his game today and it is so fun to watch him hammer the ball. Kenny stuck in there against a supreme shot maker and used his senior savvy to find a few extra points at the end to win and Jean keeps finding a way to pull through. Andy deserved a lot of credit for his grit and grind. He is such an impressive and balanced athlete and he gets tougher as the matches go deeper. It is never easy being the deciding match, but he relished the opportunity."
After a two-week break, the Crimson will return to action at the Mission Valley Spring Classic, March 15-17 in La Jolla, Calif.
1. Tao, Kenny (HARV) def. Stary, Dominik (NW) 7-5, 4-6, 6-4
2. Zhou, Andy (HARV) def. Brookes, Nick (NW) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2
3. Thirouin, Jean (HARV) def. Fasano, Antonioni (NW) 7-5, 6-3
4. Vandixhorn, Ben (NW) def. Solomon, Grant (HARV) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
5. Wrzesinski, Robert (HARV) def. Seidman, Jason (NW) 6-1, 7-6 (12)
6. Ephron, Chris (NW) def. Weber, Logan (HARV) 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: 6, 5, 3, 4, 1, 2*
1. Stary, Dominik/Vandixhorn, Ben (NW) def. Tao, Kenny/Weber, Logan (HARV) 6-4
2. Morrow, Christopher/Solomon, Grant (HARV) def. Brookes, Nick/Lorenzini, Michael (NW) 6-3
3. Ephron, Chris/Fasano, Antonioni (NW) def. Thirouin, Jean/Zhou, Andy (HARV) 6-4
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3*