The Particulars - The No. 18 Harvard men's tennis team begins its Ivy League dual schedule with home matches against No. 40 Columbia and No. 48 Cornell this weekend. Matches are slated to be played at Beren Tennis Center, but will take place at the Murr Center Tennis Courts if weather does not permit outdoor play.
The Harvard-Columbia series dates back to 1925 when the Crimson knocked off the Lions, 4-1, in the inaugural meeting. The Crimson has been dominant against the Lions, collecting 64 wins in 79 meetings, including 31 straight victories to begin the series. Recent matchups have been tightly contested as the teams have alternated victories in their last six meetings. Last season, the Lions handed Harvard its only loss in league play, posting a 5-2 victory in New York.
The Harvard-Cornell series began in 1928 and the Crimson captured a 7-2 win in the first ever match. Harvard holds a 57-10 all-time record against the Big Red, bolstered by a 34-match win streak stretching from 1962-94. The Big Red enjoyed success against the Crimson in 2010-11, downing Harvard in three straight contests. Last season, however, Harvard got back to its winning ways with a 7-0 victory over Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.
Ivies In The Rankings
It will be a tough title defense for the Crimson this season as five of the eight Ivy League squads are ranked in the ITA national rankings. Harvard leads all Ancient Eight schools at No. 18, followed by Columbia (No. 40), Cornell (No. 48), Princeton (No. 51) and Yale (No. 54).
About The Crimson
Harvard kicks off its Ivy slate playing some of its best tennis of the season, bringing a seven-match winning streak into the Columbia showdown. For the second straight season, Harvard captured the Mission Valley Spring Classic title on its spring break trip to California, rattling off three wins in three days in San Diego. Harvard started with a 4-1 win over UAB and advanced to the finals on the strength of a 4-1 victory over No. 37 San Diego State. The Crimson secured the tournament win with a 4-2 win over No. 20 Drake March 23 in its most recent action.
The Harvard doubles teams have found their rhythm as all three regular pairs boast winning records in dual play. The No. 1 tandem of Denis Nguyen and Casey MacMaster is 6-1 in dual matches this season while Andy Nguyen and Nickey Hu are 6-2 at No. 2. In five matches as the third doubles team, Alex Steinroder and Kelvin Lam are a perfect 5-0.
Co-captain Andy Nguyen continues to be a force in singles with an 8-2 record at No. 4 and unblemished records at the second and third slots as well. Hu has done well for the Crimson with a 7-4 dual singles mark, including a 6-2 record at his usual No. 5 position. Shaun Chaudhuri is 5-4 at second singles this year and Steinroeder has five singles victories to his credit this spring. Harvard is a combined 44-36 this season in singles play and an impressive 28-12 in dual doubles action.
The Lions enter the Harvard matchup with an 11-5 overall record and an Ivy League victory over Cornell under their belts. In fact, Columbia has won five of its last six matches with four of the victories coming during its spring break trip.
Winston Lin has been solid for the Lions atop their singles lineup, posting a 9-4 mark at first singles, including a pair of wins over nationally ranked opponents. Dragos Ignat has amassed nine wins between the second and third singles slots while Max Schnur has been strong at No. 4 with a 7-2 mark. The top doubles team of Schnur and Ashok Narayana has an impressive mark of 11-3 in dual match play and the Lions have combined to go 10-5 at third doubles this spring.
The Big Red brings an 11-5 mark into the weekend and will face Dartmouth April 6 before taking on Harvard. An opening win at the Blue-Gray Invitational in Montgomery, Ala., over William and Mary was followed by losses to Texas Tech and Notre Dame to wrap up the tourney. Its final match of its spring break trip was a 4-3 victory over Central Florida, but Cornell fell in its Ivy opener, 4-3, to Columbia in its last action.
Jason Luu, who plays the majority of his singles matches at No. 5, has the best record on the team at 12-2, with nine of those wins coming from the fifth position. Quoc-Daniel Nguyen has compiled an 8-3 mark at fourth singles while Sam Fleck is 7-3 at No. 2 this season. Nguyen and Luu have teamed for 11 wins at No. 2 to lead all Cornell doubles teams, while the top tandem of Alex Sidney and Venkat Iyer is 9-3 on the year. In all, Cornell boasts a 33-10 doubles mark heading into the weekend.
After This Weekend
Harvard will hit the road for its first Ivy road matches of the season. The Crimson plays at Princeton April 13 and at Penn April 14.