The Harvard Crimson
Originally published on Monday, February 14, 2005 in the Sports section of The Harvard Crimson.

M. Tennis Splits With Clemson, Louisville

Crimson Staff Writer

The No. 23 Harvard men's tennis team lost its first decision of the dual-match season yesterday, falling 4-3 to No. 40 Louisville at the Murr Center.

The Cardinals (6-4) overwhelmed a tough Crimson squad (2-1) to take the close win, despite gritty performances from the young Harvard players.

Moments from elimination, sophomore Scott Denenberg was deadlocked in a crucial battle for the match. Break-point after break-point was slowly slipping by him and suddenly he was trapped in a 10-10 tie-breaker, muscles straining as he waited for the serve.

But somehow, the sophomore persevered. Showing a resiliency far beyond his years, he forced an epic, 13-11 victory and went on to win the overall match, 4-6, 7-6 (11), 6-4.

"There were shots going left and right," he said. "It was only my second varsity match, and I was lucky to be a part of that. We both played our best."

Last year, Denenberg was in neither the singles nor the doubles lineups, but with the recent graduation of five seniors, co-captains Dave Lingman and Cliff Nguyen, George Turner, Mark Riddell and Chris Chiou, many of Harvard's younger players are now seeing legitimate time on the courts.

In addition to Denenberg, players like Ashwin Kumar and Dan Nguyen, both rookies, will likely be thrown directly into competition this spring.

And Kumar has already excelled. He and co-captain Jonathan Chu form the Crimson's first doubles combination, one which easily defeated its opponents 8-5.

No. 24 Chu snagged a straight-set, 6-4, 6-4 triumph, and senior Martin Wetzel, currently ranked No. 20, took a come-from-behind 6-7, 6-3, 4-2 (default) decision.

The on-court support was particularly impressive, with cheers continually echoing from court to court as the matches drew on.

Wetzel could be heard offering encouragement to teammates across the building, and captain Jason Beren would yell "Go Harvard!" even after his own individual success.


On Friday, the Crimson was clearly in control. Drawing contributions from every player, Harvard rolled to an easy 5-2 victory over No. 27 Clemson.

The doubles combinations of Chu and Kumar and Brandon Chiu and Dan Nguyen displayed encouraging teamwork and intense net-play, winning 9-7 and 8-5, respectively.

On the singles side, Chu and Denenberg boasted straight-set victories by respective scores of 7-6, 6-3 and 6-1, 6-2.

Captain Jason Beren pulled off a 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 comeback, and Kumar persevered for a 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 win.

"It was a great team effort," Kumar said. "My opponent was a great player, and I was lucky to win today."

"There was a lot of energy," Wetzel added, "a lot of support between the courts."

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