St. John's, Alabama and Old Dominion On Tap For No. 27 Men's Tennis
Alex Steinroeder and the Crimson look to move their record above .500 this weekend (Harvard Athletic Communications).
The Harvard men's tennis team has a busy weekend, playing three matches in three days. The Crimson is set to face St. John's and Alabama Friday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, before hosting Old Dominion Sunday in its first home dual match of the season.
Last Time Out
It was a successful stay in Norman, Okla., for Harvard last weekend at the ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Crimson began the weekend against No. 30 Notre Dame, and despite playing without its first and third singles players, the Crimson edged out the Fighting Irish, 4-3. Nicholas Mahlangu and Alex Steinroeder teamed for a dominating 8-0 win at third doubles, helping Harvard claim the doubles point for a quick 1-0 lead. Mahlangu was the hero again in singles, pulling out a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 win at fifth singles to clinch the match win. Steinroeder and Casey MacMaster also picked up singles wins for the Crimson.
Harvard met a tough test a day later in No. 8 Oklahoma, and the Sooners rolled to a 4-0 victory. Nicky Hu and Andy Nguyen stood at 7-7 in the second doubles position when the Sooners clinched the doubles point to grab an early lead in the match. Hu split sets with Dane Webb at third singles, but the two didn't get a chance to play the deciding set, as Oklahoma had already clinched the match with a pair of singles wins and a walkover.
About The Crimson
With a 1-1 record early in its dual match season, the Crimson looks to bolster its record against three strong teams this weekend. Harvard started the season ranked No. 28 in the ITA polls and ascended one spot after its strong showing at the ITA Kickoff Weekend.
The freshman class has already made a big impact, putting together a solid fall season and playing clutch tennis early in the dual season. Nicholas Mahlangu started the 2013 campaign by teaming with sophomore Alex Steinroeder to claim the doubles title at the Harvard Winter Invite Jan. 18-20. Mahlangu scored two big points for the Crimson in its win over No. 30 Notre Dame last weekend, while classmate Nicky Hu has been solid at second doubles and third singles.
Scouting St. John's
St. John's enters Friday's match still in search of its first dual win of the 2013 season. The Red Storm kicked off its season with a week-long Florida swing, taking on a quartet of ranked teams. A 7-0 loss to South Florida and a 5-2 loss against Stetson preceded St. John's traveling to Gainesville, Fla., for the ITA Kickoff Weekend. Host No. 11 Florida handed the Red Storm another 7-0 loss, as did South Alabama the following day in the second round of the event. St. John's boasts an experienced group of players, as four of seven members of the team are seniors.
The Crimson Tide is off to a hot start in 2013, as it has claimed victories in four of five matches this season. Alabama hosted Alabama State and Jackson State Jan. 19, and posted a pair of 7-0 victories on the day. Wake Forest handed the Crimson Tide its only loss of the season Jan. 26, a 4-3 decision, but Alabama rallied for 4-1 and 4-3 victories over New Mexico and Penn State the following day. The Tide boasts a good balance of experience and youth with four upperclassmen and six underclassmen on its squad. It will take on Ivy League foe Cornell Friday morning before facing the Crimson at night.
Scouting Old Dominion
After starting its dual match schedule with a 5-2 defeat at Georgia, Old Dominion rallied for three straight match wins, giving it a 3-1 record heading into the weekend. A 5-2 decision against Norfolk State went the way of the Monarchs Jan. 20, and ODU picked up a 7-0 win over Richmond Jan. 26 and a 6-1 win over UMBC the following afternoon. ODU will take on Dartmouth Friday before heading to Cambridge for its Sunday showdown with the Crimson.
Old Dominion boasts four upperclassmen and six underclassmen on its roster, including a pair of seniors. Sophomore Carlos Lopez Villa leads the way for the Monarchs as he is undefeated (4-0) in dual matches at No. 1 this season. Juniors Wesley Barrett and Dante Terenzio and freshman Zvonimir Podvinski all boast 3-1 singles records coming into the match against Dartmouth.
The Crimson travels to Evanston, Ill., for a pair of dual matches. Harvard will take on No. 34 Northwestern Feb. 9 before facing No. 44 Vanderbilt the following day.