NEW YORK – The #50 nationally-ranked Columbia men’s tennis team silenced any doubters Sunday in the Dick Savitt Tennis Center, as the Lions had their biggest win of the season, beating #20 Harvard, 5-2. The momentous win was Columbia’s 12th straight, as the Lions improved to 3-0 in the Ivy League and handed Harvard only its second loss of the season, and first in conference play.
Columbia came out on fire in the doubles, riding the home-court crowd’s energy. Senior co-captain Haig Schneiderman and first-year phenom Winston Lin rode that energy all the way to a win, as the duo downed Andy Nguyen and Denis Nguyen, 8-3 in the No.3 doubles spot. But Harvard evened up the score with a win in the No.1 spot, where the #44 nationally-ranked pair of Alistair Felton and Casey McMaster rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat first-years Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur, 8-5.
The doubles point came down to the No.2 spot, where juniors Nathaniel Gery and John Yetimoglu were battling Jonathan Pearlman and Christo Schultz. Despite being broken early on, Gery and Yetimoglu stayed in the match and broke the Crimson back, keeping things on serve until the end of the match. Tied 8-8, the foursome went into a tiebreaker, where Harvard just barely pulled out the win, 8-6. The Crimson had the early lead, 1-0 on the Lions.
In a normal match, the winner of the doubles point usually carries the momentum of the early advantage into singles. But this was not a normal match. Columbia came to the court for singles even more fired up than they were for doubles. Playing in the No.1 for the first time since March, first-year Winston Lin would be the first to draw blood from Harvard, as he beat Crimson senior Jonathan Pearlman with ease, 6-1, 6-2. With Lin’s win, the team score was evened up, 1-1, and the match was anyone’s to take.
The Crimson didn’t stay down long, however, as Harvard’s own freshman phenom, Denis Nguyen, beat Columbia senior Haig Schneiderman in the No.2 spot, 6-4, 6-2, to give Harvard a 2-1 lead once again. Seconds later, sophomore Tizian Bucher squelched that momentum, as he defeated Henry Steer in the No.6 spot, 7-5, 6-4, tying the score up once more at 2-2.
The remaining three matches were all in third sets, and the battles continued to wage. First-year Ashok Narayana gave the Lions a huge surge of momentum when he made it 3-2, with his win over Shaun Chaudhuri in the No.4 spot, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. His win meant that the Lions were just one match away from clinching the victory. But that assurance wouldn’t come for some time, as first-year Bert Vancura and junior Nathaniel Gery were both leading in the third set, but still fighting off a tough Harvard team.
Vancura, who had fought back from a dropped first set to force a third, proved to be the one who would assure the Lions’ win. The first-year, showing poise beyond his years, downed Alex Steinroeder, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, and was rushed by his teammates on the court, clinching the win for Columbia. Junior Nathaniel Gery finished strongly in his third set to make it a resounding 5-2 win, as he beat Christo Schultz, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
With the win, Columbia now sits atop the Ivy League and is the team to beat, at a perfect 3-0. Challenges lie ahead for the Lions, as Yale and Brown lay waiting, welcoming Columbia to their home courts next weekend. The Lions will take on Yale, Saturday, April 14 in New Haven, and Brown, Sunday, April 15 in Providence. First serve for both matches is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Tennis Match Results
Harvard vs Columbia University
Apr 08, 2012 at Dick Savitt Tennis Center (New York, NY)
#50 Columbia University 5, #20 Harvard 2
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*
1. Winston Lin (COL) def. Jonathan Pearlman (HARV) 6-1, 6-2
2. Denis Nguyen (HARV) def. Haig Schneiderman (COL) 6-4, 6-2
3. Nathaniel Gery (COL) def. Christo Schultz (HARV) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
4. Ashok Narayana (COL) def. Shaun Chaudhuri (HARV) 6-3, 1-6, 6-2
5. Bert Vancura (COL) def. Alex Steinroeder (HARV) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
6. Tizian Bucher (COL) def. Henry Steer (HARV) 7-5, 6-4
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 6, 4, 5*, 3
Harvard 17-2, 1-1 Ivy League; National ranking #20
Columbia University 16-2, 3-0 Ivy League; National ranking #50