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Harvard Men’s Tennis 1-1 in Los Angeles ITA Kickoff

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No. 24 Harvard ended the ITA Kickoff with a 1-1 record last weekend, facing off against No. 15 Pepperdine and No. 8 USC in Los Angeles. Following a crushing defeat by Virginia the previous weekend, Saturday’s nail-biter match against Pepperdine finally ended in a 4-3 victory for the Crimson. Harvard took three of six singles matches against the Waves, as well as two of three doubles matches.

“The doubles point was especially big for us,” said Jachuck. “That’s something we’ve been working on a lot, and I think we were able to see the improvements.”

In singles, sophomore Ronan Jachuck defeated Eero Vasa in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, and secured a 6-4 victory alongside junior Harris Walker over Corrado Summaria and Tim Zeitvogel. Meanwhile, the Crimson’s Henry von der Schulenburg dropped the number one match to #8 Daniel De Jonge, 6-3, 6-3. Pepperdine also took straight-set wins in the fourth- and sixth-seeded singles, defeating Daniel Milavsky and David Lins.

The teams remained in close competition, and with the score tied at 3-3, the outcome rested on senior Brian Shi, who overcame #15 Andrew Rogers in an epic three sets, 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4. The victory continued Shi’s four-match winning streak for the season, as well as his second three-set win in a row. Despite pressure from the crowd, the captain stayed cool, comfortably closing out the final set and securing Harvard’s first win over Pepperdine since 1999.

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“We knew they were a great team, but we also knew that we could go out there and get the win, so the energy was high from the start,” said Jachuck of the Pepperdine match. “The atmosphere was incredible.”

The Crimson struggled to maintain that momentum against USC, ending the weekend with a decisive 0-4 loss. The Trojans, who have consistently occupied the top ten for a decade, took the point in doubles with two close wins, and subsequently won three straight-set singles matches. Jachuck fell to Ryan Colby in the fifth position match 6-3, 6-4.

“[USC] showed that they’re a great team this year, but I think we’ve been learning a lot from our matches,” he explained. “We’ve been away from college tennis for two years now, so every match we play, we’re getting better.”

Despite their 2-1 doubles performance against Pepperdine the previous day, Harvard was unable to convert the point against USC. The Trojans’ Dostanic and Bradley Frye took a 6-3 win over Brian Shi and Daniel Milavsky in the top match, while Jachuck and Walker fell to Ryder Jackson and Wojtek Marek, 6-4. The six-game, no-ad format of doubles gives players the opportunity to seize control quickly.

“[Doubles] is always going to come down to a few points here and there, and the little details,” Jachuck reflected on the loss. “We were down a break, got it back, and had chances to get a lead later on but let it slip.”

The Crimson, now 3-2 overall, will face Michigan in Cambridge on Feb. 6. This marks the first meeting between the teams since 2018. The Wolverines lead the Crimson 6-0 in previous matchups, but players are optimistic and ready to have the home-court advantage. Following the ITA Kickoff, Harvard remains focused on improving and maintaining the same energy level while playing top teams.

Jachuck noted the fast pace of the tennis season, but emphasized the importance of each individual match as an opportunity for growth. “It will be great to test ourselves again,” said the sophomore of the upcoming challenge. “All these matches count, and we will learn a lot from the wins and the losses.”

Following Sunday’s competition with Michigan, the Crimson will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., for the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament at Cornell.


—Staff writer Caroline Gage can be reached at caroline.gage@thecrimson.com.

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