News

Ahead of Demolition, One Last Hurrah for the Harvard Square Pit at Pit-A-Palooza

News

As Bacow Prepares to Exit, 41 Percent of Surveyed Harvard Faculty Say They are Satisfied with His Performance

News

One Third of Surveyed Harvard Faculty Believe A Colleague in Their Department Was Unjustly Denied Tenure

News

Harvard Asks Judge to Dismiss Comaroff Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

News

Harvard Holds Human Remains of 19 Likely Enslaved Individuals, Thousands of Native Americans, Draft Report Says

Men's Tennis Completes Trifecta of Victories to Take Home ECAC Championship

Harvard men's tennis competes in the Crimson Halloween Invite in Cambridge between Oct. 29 and Oct. 31, 2021. This past weekend, the Crimson claimed the ECAC championship with a trio of victories over Ivy League opponents.
Harvard men's tennis competes in the Crimson Halloween Invite in Cambridge between Oct. 29 and Oct. 31, 2021. This past weekend, the Crimson claimed the ECAC championship with a trio of victories over Ivy League opponents. By Owen A. Berger
By David Aley, Crimson Staff Writer

“We knew we were the one seed, we knew we had a target on our back,” junior Harris Walker said. “So it was all about staying disciplined, going out there and taking care of business, doing nothing fancy.”

There were two main themes of this past weekend for No. 16 Harvard Men’s Tennis as it secured the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship: composure and execution. The Crimson men competed for a grueling three-day stretch against their Ivy League counterparts in the first major team tournament of the spring season as they took on Brown, Princeton, and Columbia on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively. With high hopes as the top seed in the tournament and the memory of losing in the ECAC final two years ago still fresh on their minds, the Harvard men came through with stellar performances across the board to take home its first team hardware of the season.

HARVARD 4, BROWN 0

The Crimson came out firing on all cylinders in its opening match against Brown. In doubles play, first-year Daniel Milavsky and senior Brian Shi defeated a duo from Brown in a quick 6-2 performance, followed by Walker and sophomore Ronan Jachuck securing the doubles point with a 6-4 victory of their own.

“[Jachuck] and I have played every match together, and we keep getting better,” said Walker about the doubles performance. “We had a couple of tough losses at the beginning, but we’ve found our groove, our chemistry has gotten much, much better, and we’ve been focusing on honing the patterns that we really like. It’s all about looking to find a volley after our serve, and if we’re returning on big points, it’s about attacking.”

In singles play, Harvard found its rhythm, with Jachuck and Milavsky making quick work of their opponents in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-2, respectively. Walker remained on the court after those two singles games wrapped up, putting the Crimson on the brink of a day one victory up 3-0. With an impressive first set performance score of 6-1, Walker followed up with even more dominance to secure the team victory in the second set by a 6-1 margin.

“Slowly but surely the pressure mounted and I ended up running away with it, which felt good to get it done quickly when you’re going into the rest of the weekend knowing it’ll only get tougher,” Walker said.

HARVARD 4, PRINCETON 0

On the second day of the tournament, Harvard knew it was going to face a tougher test against the Tigers. The Crimson, however, stepped up to the challenge and executed their plan perfectly en route to a 4-0 victory to move onto the final round of the tournament.

Walker noted that while the team got off to a rocky start in competitions this year, it was this performance that highlighted just how far the team had come in building chemistry and gaining momentum.

“Now everyone’s together and we’re starting to fire on all cylinders,” Walker said. “It’s exciting.”

Building on momentum from the first match, Walker and Jachuck helped take the doubles point from Princeton 6-4, while the duo of sophomore Henry Von Der Schulenburg and junior Steven Sun brought it home with a 7-5 victory.

Harvard then proceeded to win on the first and sixth courts in singles play, again leaving Walker to finish the job and secure the team victory. After two straight positive sets with a 6-4 margin, the junior advanced the Crimson to the next round for the second day in a row.

“It was great to clinch [the match against Princeton], and I know if I hadn’t, it would’ve been a very, very tight match,” Walker said. “Even though [we won] 4-0, it was much closer than the score indicates.”

HARVARD 4, COLUMBIA 2

The final match of the tournament told a bit of a different story: for the first time all weekend, the Harvard men were backed against the wall.

In doubles play, Von Der Schulenberg and Sun gained an early lead on the third court with a dominant 6-3 win, but the other two Crimson duos lost, resulting in Columbia taking the doubles point.

“We were all really looking forward to the match against Columbia, and I think that actually worked a little bit against me, specifically,” Jachuck said. “I was playing a little bit tight, you know, I wasn’t really playing my game.”

In singles play, Harvard got back on track, as Walker and Milavsky were able to each take down their opponents by scores of 6-1, 6-3 and 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, respectively. On the third court, Shi battled closely against Columbia’s Max Westphal, going to the wire in the first set with a 7-6(3) performance. Shi followed this clutch performance with an identical 7-6(3) second set, putting the Crimson up 3-2 in the match and on the brink of victory and an ECAC Championship. This left Jachuck to seal the deal.

“It got interesting because the matches next to me finished, and as matches started to come down I knew the score was getting close, but I had no idea how close we were to clinching the match,” Jachuck said. “I was pretty in the zone, focusing on myself, not worrying what was going on the other side or on the other courts.”

Jachuck dropped the first set 5-7, but then came back to take the second set 6-3. And if it hadn’t completely come together before, it was in this moment –in this last set, on the brink of a tournament victory –that the team realized its goals for the season were starting to come to fruition.

“[Jachuck] has always been composed, and he’s a great example of someone who regardless of the ups and downs stays level-headed,” Walker said. “We’ve all believed in him, I’ve believed in him. Even a set down, I knew he was going to come back. He deserves it more than anyone.”

Up 5-4 in the set, Jachuck stepped back to serve, stepped up for his opponent’s return just to see the ball hit right back into the net, ending the match and securing the ECAC Championship. Jachuck’s teammates immediately rushed the court to congratulate him and celebrate the win.

Harvard men's tennis participates in a 4-3 victory over Cornell on April 20, 2019. This past weekend, the Crimson managed a trio of victories over Ivy League opponents to claim the ECAC crown.
Harvard men's tennis participates in a 4-3 victory over Cornell on April 20, 2019. This past weekend, the Crimson managed a trio of victories over Ivy League opponents to claim the ECAC crown. By Timothy R. O'Meara

“I didn’t realize we won until all my teammates rushed the court and bulldozed me,” Jachuck said.

Harvard went into this spring season with lofty goals, a top 25 national ranking and a hunger to prove themselves worthy of national recognition after a year of no competition. And with this victory, dreams of an Ivy League Title and a run in the NCAA tournament feel a bit closer to reality.

“I really don’t think there are ten teams in college tennis that can beat us,” Walker said. “To have a banner that says we went far in the NCAA tournament, that’s something that lasts forever.”

Next up for the Crimson are two home matches against Vanderbilt and Northwestern this weekend.

-Staff writer David Aley can be reached at david.aley@thecrimson.com.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags
Men's TennisGame Stories

Related Articles

Super Smash Bros