Varsity Tennis

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Hey, everyone! I know I promised to share the project I have been working on for a while, but it will be my next blog entry, which I’ll post around March 29th, in honor of college admissions decision day.

Last month, the Men’s Tennis Team had the opportunity to travel to Indiana and New Hampshire.  Ironically, the tennis team was in Indianapolis, Indiana during Super Bowl weekend.  On this trip, we played three dual matches against Vanderbilt, University of Indiana, and Butler. All three matches were extremely exciting, and we ultimately bested Vanderbilt and Butler, 4-3 and 7-0, while falling to Indiana 5-2.

Men's Tennis Team at Butler's Basketball arena

After traveling to Indiana, the tennis team traveled to Dartmouth to compete in the ECAC championships. The ECAC Championships is a three-day eight team tournament, and seven of the eight teams were in the Ivy League.   In the first match, I competed in the first “Harvard-Yale” game of my college tennis career. The match started around 8 pm, and while it was a tough match, Harvard was able to pull away for a 4-1 win. In the second match, we played Dartmouth in front of a divided home crowd. This match went the length, as Harvard won the doubles point and three singles matches to clinch the match 4-2.  In the finals, we played Brown. After losing the doubles point, we were able to register four wins in singles and came away with a 4-1 win to clinch the championship!  This event was really special, as our team really came together and persevered through many challenges.

The Men's Tennis Team at ECAC Championships in New Hampshire

With each weekend traveling and playing dual matches, I haven’t had the opportunity to participate in as many other extracurricular events as I did in my first semester, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of being a college athlete.  While it is a great privilege to be a student here, I find greater joy in representing Harvard on the tennis court. In my opinion, the biggest difference between competing at the junior and collegiate level, is that, at the collegiate level, you represent something that is larger than yourself, and that feeling is truly priceless.

While tennis has been very exciting, school has also had its share of excitement.  Last week, the freshmen received their housing assignments for our next three years on campus. For those not familiar with Harvard’s housing system, after freshmen year, all freshmen are sorted into 1 of 12 Houses. You can “block” with up to eight other students, which guarantees that you will be placed in the same House.  While the House assignments are completely random, Housing Day gets very intense. On the Thursday morning before spring break, upperclassmen members of the Houses storm Harvard Yard (where freshmen live), carrying flags and decked out in costumes and House t-shirts. Then, the upperclassmen come into the dorms and notify each blocking group of the House they were placed in to. (To give you a better idea here is a link from this year’s Housing Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6ZxMBEkB8). After many stressful hours, my blocking group found out we were placed into Winthrop House!  Winthrop House boasts some pretty cool alums and once home to President John F. Kennedy; Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve; and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Winthrop House is located on the banks of the Charles River,  pretty close to the athletics facilities, and not far from the center of campus.

Members of Winthrop House storming our room

That’s all for this post! For spring break, the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team is heading to San Diego to compete in another 8-team tournament. I hope you all enjoy spring break, and I look forward to blogging about our adventures in California!

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This past weekend, I spent my time away from Harvard in Ithaca, New York. The Harvard  Men’s Tennis Team headed to Cornell to play the Regional Championships. All eight schools in the Ivy League were represented, as well as several other schools such as Marist, St. Johns, and Buffalo. In this tournament,  each school was allowed between one and six players depending on the team’s ranking and the players’ individual rankings. Harvard had six singles players and three doubles entered in the 128 draw field.

Our team left Harvard around 2 o’clock last Thursday to head down to the tournament. Our trip down to Ithaca was very scenic, as we got further away from Boston and into the more rural areas of New York.   The team bonded over card games and other activities during the 6 hour drive to Ithaca.  We ended up reaching Cornell around 8, and we practiced at the Reis Tennis Center for an hour before checking into the hotel and going to bed.

Friday was the first day of the tournament, and Harvard had a perfect day in singles with all participants advancing and two out of the three doubles team advancing as well. In my match, I played an international player from the University at Buffalo. In the first set, I got off to a good start, and had the lead throughout the first set.  My opponent started to gain momentum near the end of the set, but I was able to win the first set 7-6, winning 7-4 in the tiebreaker. In the second and third set, he played much more aggressively, winning the second set 4-6, and in the third set, he was up 4-3. After a talk with my coaches, at the changeover, I came out with a new, aggressive game plan, and I was able to win the last three games closing out the match 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4. The match lasted nearly four hours!  Afterward, I went back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the next match on the following day.

Coach Fish giving me advice at a changeover.

On Saturday, I was scheduled to play the #1 player from Yale. He was a junior and had been named Ivy League Player of the Year as a freshmen. It was a really tough match, and I fell in straight sets.  My opponent played a very clean match, and it was a great learning experience. For the rest of the day, I cheered on teammates and started homework that was due later that week. We were planning to leave  Sunday, but ended up traveling on Monday.

After the tournament, I spent the week catching up on schoolwork. This past week, I also did something I have never done before. I had the opportunity to play a Grandmaster in a game of chess. A Grandmaster is the highest honor a chess player can receive. Larry Christiansen the Grandmaster played on the U.S. Olympiad Team nine times and has a 2,585 rating (one of the highest in the world).

Larry Christiansen and I

He played a simul with 20 players, meaning that he played twenty players at once. He would make his move and move from board to board. My game lasted for about 40 moves, but he ended up getting a piece advantage and was able to control the rest of the match. The fact that I was able to play a chess Grandmaster was truly remarkable. There aren’t many places in the world where I would have been able to do this.

Larry Christiansen is about to move in the chess game.

That was the end of my week. This weekend, the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team will compete in the Harvard Halloween Invitational, and I will also be attending  celebrations in honor of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, on Sunday. I’ll write again next Saturday, and in the meantime, have a great week!

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