“One thing is that our team has really come a long way in this semester with our confidence and confidence in ourselves,” said first-year Holly Fischer. “So I think that even though we were down, everyone was playing and fighting so hard and really leaving everything on the court.”
The Harvard women’s and men’s tennis teams had grueling weekends against Ivy League opponents Columbia and Cornell, with men on the road in New York and the women’s down home court in Cambridge. After two long, hard-fought matches on Saturday and Sunday, the Crimson women and men walked away with two more victories each, well-poised for regular season competitions.
On Saturday, Harvard (12-7, 3-0 Ivy League) set the tone for a successful weekend with a decisive 4-1 victory over No. 2 Oregon. 56 The Murr Center at Columbia, MA, securing the Crimson’s fifth consecutive victory.
“Going into this weekend our team was focused and we were all super motivated,” Fischer said. “We knew these two would be tough matches coming up.”
The preparation paid off instantly, as did Harvard got off to a doubles play with a scorching start, with first-year Angel You and sophomore Iveta Daujotaite finishing first with a 7-5 victory, followed by Fischer and first-year Maxi Duncan securing A 6-4 victory with the point.
“I really like playing with [Duncan] And I think our games compliment each other really well, ”Fischer said. “We both like to play very aggressively so we have a clear idea of how we wanted to play against Columbia and what we wanted to do on the court.”
The Crimson found continued success against the Lions in singles play, with You and sophomore Sany Gawande taking down their Columbia opponents by scores of 6-0, 6-0, and 6-2, 6-2, respectively. On the fourth court, junior Mihaela Marculescu was defeated in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, tightening up the match, leaving it to Fischer, Duncan, and junior Sophia Ho to finish it off. After a 6-4 victory in the first set, Fischer was challenged in the second set, with a score of 6-5 before the final few serves. Eventually, Fischer broke through and secured a 7-5 win, clinching the match for Harvard.
“Everybody on our team was really fighting for every point because we knew that the matches could go either way,” Fischer said. “After the final point I think we were all kind of breathing a sigh of relief. The whole day was very intense.”
The Crimson saw continued success on Sunday against Cornell, a 4-2 margin by their sixth consecutive victory against Big Red. Fischer and Duncan took their momentum the day before with a dominating 6-0 performance against a duo of Columbia. Senior Rachel Lim and Marculescu followed up with a similarly convincing 6-2 win to capture the doubles point, once again putting the team up.
In singles play, Harvard found themselves in a bit more trouble. Gawande secured a victory over the Sixth Court, 6-3, 6-2, but Ho and Fischer dropped their games by 6-2, 6-0, and 6-2, 6-1, respectively. Fischer noted that the losses were tied up at 2-2, and the Crimson women have learned over the course of the season to stay resilient and stick together.
“Cornell is definitely a tricky team, and even though I think that the conditions were tough yesterday, everyone was doing what they could to find a way to make their match,” Fischer said.
Duncan followed Fischer’s tough defeat with a huge 6-2, 6-1 win on the second court, leaving first-year Rachel Arbitman and senior Rachel Eason to secure the win. Arbitman went the distance in a tense 7-6 (7-1) first set, but came out firing a second set with a statement 6-0 performance to clinch the match.
Too close to the regular season, including four more Ivy League opponents await Harvard. 48 Princeton this Saturday and no. 62 April of Yale. The Crimson will look to maintain their success as its biggest rivals near the end of the regular season
No. 16 Harvard started off with a decisive 4-1 win against the weekend. 23 Columbia, their second win in the Ivy League this spring. This also marks Crimson’s second victory over the Lions this season.
Senior captain Brian Shi has been recognized as the team for the win.
“It’s always tough going up against Columbia, they’re such a great team,” he said. “In the past few years they’ve been pretty much our biggest rival, and the team to beat in the Ivy League.”
Harvard took the top two matches in the securing wins by doubles point. Shi and first-year Daniel Milavsky took on Columbia’s Theo Winegar and Max Westphal on Court 1, followed by the winning 6-1. Meanwhile, sophomore Ronan Jachuck and junior Harris Walker battled Alex Kotzen and Henry Ruger in a close 7-5 set. Both duos struggled to get the necessary break, going back and forth to the very end.
“It came down to just a couple of points to get to the end of one break at 6-5 to close out the set and clinch the doubles point,” Jachuck explained. “We executed really well, and committed to playing our aggressive tennis.”
Singles play was equally successful for The Crimson, with three straight-set victories. Walker defeated Max Westphal 6-2, 6-3 on Court 3, while Jachuck secured a 6-3, 6-4 win over Austen Huang. Shi fought his first set in a tie-break, but came back with a vengeance in the second to win 7-6 (6), 6-0.
Shi maintains his lead, helped by his teammates from the first set and support from Momentum of A. “I saw my team getting hyped and I used to get to the finish line,” Shi recalled.
Following their win at Columbia, Harvard was back on the road to face Cornell. In a slightly closer matchup, the Crimson emerged victorious at 4-2, continuing their 3-0 Ivy League winning streak and going 13-4 for their record.
Once again, Harvard took the lead over their opponents in doubles and clinching the doubles point. Jachuck and Walker had an effective match against Court Two against Cornell’s Adit Sinha and Nathan Mao for a 6-3 win. On the third court, sophomore Henry von der Schulenburg and junior Steven Sun got a break and took the set 6-4 against Radu Papoe and Pietro Rimondini.
“[Walker] And I always want to play our matches on our terms, ”Jachuck said. “We got an early break, and we gave the break back, but we did feel that we were making the ones.”
Single-play challenge, with the top half swinging out of Cornell’s lineup. Shi fell to Vladislav Melnic in straight sets, 4-6, 4-6, marking the end of his 13-match winning streak. Despite the loss, Shi was discouraged.
“I would have hoped I would have played a level of good and I know I could, but I’m not too upset about the match, because as a team we were able to come out with a win,” he shared .
Although Harvard lost the top two matches, number three seed Walker defeated Cornell’s Radu Papoe 6-2, 7-6 (3), and Jachuck quickly beat Evan Bynoe 6-0, 6-1. This win over the Big Red leads into the Crimson as the next Ivy League competition against Prince Harvard faces Princeton and Penn at home next weekend.
-Staff writer David Aley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Caroline Gage can be reached at email@example.com.