Yale Falls to No. 47 Harvard in First Round of ECAC Championship

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Daniel Hoffman. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Push Crimson to Four Three-Setters

ITHACA, N.Y. – The Yale men's tennis team suffered a close defeat to perennial rival No. 47 Harvard late Friday night at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division I Indoor Team Championship.  Playing at Cornell's Reis Tennis Center, the Bulldogs dropped the doubles point and were unable to make up the difference in singles, with the Crimson sealing a 4-2 win. 

Yale (4-2), seeded No. 8, was playing No. 1 seed Harvard (5-3) in the first round of the ECAC Championship for the second year in a row, with the Crimson also having come out on top last season.  Playing the last of the four opening round matches, the Bulldogs played Harvard tough throughout the course of the night, forcing no less than four three-set singles matches. 

Before the Elis tried to stage this courageous comeback, however, Harvard had come out strong in doubles, scoring victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles spots.  Nicky Hu and Andy Nguyen defeated junior Patrick Chase and senior John Huang 8-5, while Shaun Chaudhuri and Alex Steinroeder triumphed over senior Zachary Dean and sophomore Matt Saiontz by the same score.

The Elis refused to go away silently, however, and but for a few points here or there, the end result could have very well turned out differently.  Senior Marc Powers, playing at No. 2 singles for the Bulldogs, lost a first-set tiebreaker before storming back to defeat Chaudhuri 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1.  In another match that went the distance, captain Daniel Hoffman, playing at No. 3 singles, overcame Steinroeder, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.  These hard-fought victories were canceled out, however, by Harvard wins at the No. 5 and No. 6 spots. 

Freshman Jason Brown's match against Andy Nguyen proved to be the turning point.  After splitting the two sets, Brown and Nguyen matched each other stroke for stroke in the final set, which fittingly ended in a nail-biting tiebreaker, which Nguyen snatched to close out the 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(8) win.  A victory by Brown, who drops to 21-3 on the season, would have left Huang's match, which also looked to be heading to a tight finish, to be the decider.

In the other ECAC opening round matches, No. 42 Columbia edged out George Washington, No. 64 Princeton defeated No. 59 Dartmouth and No. 73 Cornell upset No. 61 Brown.   

Harvard's squad advances to the ECAC semifinals, where it will face Cornell.  Yale, meanwhile, moves into the consolation bracket for fifth place and will play Brown, a team that the Elis met in a friendly scrimmage in January.  The Bulldogs will have to recover quickly, as this match gets underway at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Saturday at Cornell's Reis Tennis Center. 

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity 

Singles

1. Denis Nguyen (Harvard) vs. John Huang (Yale), 6-3, 3-6, 3-2 (DNF)

2. Marc Powers (Yale) def. Shaun Chaudhuri (Harvard), 6-7 (6) 6-3, 6-1

3. Daniel Hoffman (Yale) def. Alex Steinroeder (Harvard), 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

4. Andy Nguyen (Harvard) def. Jason Brown (Yale), 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8)

5. Nicky Hu (Harvard) def. Martin Svenning (Yale), 6-4, 6-4

6. Casey MacMaster (Harvard) def. Zachary Dean (Yale), 6-2, 6-2

Doubles

1. MacMaster/D. Nguyen (Harvard) vs. Hoffman/Powers (Yale), 4-6 (DNF)

2. Hu/A. Nguyen (Harvard) def. Patrick Chase/Huang (Yale), 8-5

3. Chaudhuri/Steinroeder (Harvard) def. Dean/Matt Saiontz (Yale), 8-5