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Columbia, Harvard Capture NCAA Championship First-Round Wins in Men's Tennis First

Harvard's Brian Yeung
Harvard's Brian Yeung

Bracket | Live Stats: Columbia | Harvard

Portions courtesy of Columbia Media Relations/Sports Information and Harvard Athletic Communications

NASHVILLE, Tenn. & NORMAN, Okla. -- Saturday was Ivy League's men's tennis' turn to have a milestone day as Columbia and Harvard each won their NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship first-round matches, marking a first in conference history.

National No. 16 seed Columbia got its first NCAA Tournament win in a 4-0 shutout over East Tennessee State at Vanderbilt's Currey Tennnis Center in Nashville, Tenn., while Harvard rebounded from an early setback to drop Auburn 4-1 at Oklahoma's Headington Tennis Center in Norman, Okla. It marked the first time in League history two men's tennis teams won NCAA Tournament first-round matches in the same season.

Both teams are back in action on Sunday as the Lions (21-1, 7-0 Ivy) take on Vanderbilt (17-10, 5-7 SEC) at 2 p.m. and Harvard (18-6, 6-1 SEC) battles No. 2 Oklahoma (24-3, 4-2 Big 12) at 3 p.m.

The Lions won the doubles point with wins at No. 3 and No. 1 doubles. Junior Winston Lin and sophomore Mike Vermeer defeated ETSU's Sebastian Yllera and Connor Huertas 8-3 at No. 3 for the first win. Junior Bert Vancura and freshman Richard Pham were knotted up at 6-6 when No. 12 Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur defeated Diego Nunez and Ismael Merino 8-6, at No. 1 doubles to take the point.  

Narayana and Schnur were down two breaks, 1-0, and 2-1, but came back to take a 6-3 lead. ETSU battled back, breaking twice, to tie it at 6-6 before Narayana and Schnur held and broke for the 8-6 win, and to clinch the doubles point.  

In singles, ETSU came out with a lot of energy, while the Lions started out slow, but built quickly. Sophomore Dragos Ignat defeteated Yllera 6-1, 6-1, cruising, in a match that lasted just over an hour.

Ignat finished just minutes before Narayana at No. 4, who defeated Merino, 6-1, 6-2, giving the Lions the 3-0 lead. The Lions were down sets at No. 1, 2 and 5, but each were battling in the second sets.  Vermeer was up 2-0 in the first set at No. 6, then fell behind 3-2 before cruising to the 6-3 win in the first. He went on to win the second set 6-2 to clinch the match for the Lions.

Over in Norman, Okla., Harvard cruised in singles with four straight set wins to win the match, though Auburn employed a successful doubles shake-up to clinch the first point with 8-6 wins in the No. 2 and 3 positions.

The narrow doubles defeat did nothing to dispel the Crimson's hopes of a victory, and it showed when all six first sets of singles went to the Crimson. Sophomore Nicky Hu was punishing at No. 6, blazing through the first set, 6-0, and leveling the match at 1-1 with a quick 6-0, 6-3 final over Oliver Plaskett.

Singles specialist Shaun Chaudhuri employed his methodical groundstroke game, but mixed in a handful of surprising volleys to keep Dennis Lengfeld off balance in a dominant, 6-1, 6-2, victory on the third court, giving Harvard the match lead at 2-1. Junior Alex Steinroeder put Harvard within one point of the victory, mixing paces and spins effectively in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Joseph Van Dooren at No. 4.

Freshman Sebastian Beltrame and junior Denis Nguyen dropped second sets at second and first singles, respectively, but freshman Brian Yeung found himself in a battle for the second set at No. 5. A strong service game gave Yeung a 6-5 edge in the second stanza, but Auburn's Dante Saleh forced a tiebreaker with a service hold in the next game. Yeung quickly regained focus and humbled Saleh in the tiebreaker, polishing off a 6-3, 7-6 (0) victory with a blistering backhand return from just behind the service line, sealing the 4-1 win for Harvard.

It was Harvard's fourth-straight win over Auburn in five matchups all-time.

#16 Columbia 4, East Tennessee State 0
1. #12 Narayana/Schnur (CU) def. Diego Nunez/Ismael Merino (ETSU) 8-6
2. Vancura/Richard Pham (CU) vs. Biosca/Ordeig (ETSU) 6-6 DNF
3. Lin/Vermeer (CU) def. Yllera/Huertas (ETSU) 8-3
Order of Finish: 3,1

1. #17 Winston Lin (CU) vs. David Biosca (ETSU) 5-7 DNF
2. Max Schnur (CU) vs. Diego Nunez (ETSU) 4-6, 5-5 DNF
3. Dragos Ignat (CU) def. Sebastian Yllera (ETSU) 6-1, 6-1
4. Ashok Narayana (CU) def. Ismael Merino (ETSU) 6-1, 6-2
5. Bert Vancura (CU) vs. Connor Huertas (ETSU) 3-6, 3-4 DBF
6. Mike Vermeer (CU) def. Roger Ordeig (ETSU) 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: 3,4,6

#31 Harvard 4, #42 Auburn 1
1. Nguyen/Casey MacMaster (HU) def. Cochrane/Ollert (AU) 8-4
2. Lengsfeld/Saleh (AU) def. Hu/Yeung (HU) 8-6
3. Van Dooren/Plaskett (AU) def. Beltrame/Schultz (HU) 8-6
Order of Finish: 2,1,3

1. Lukas Ollert (AU) vs. Dennis Nguyen (HU) 3-6, 6-3, 5-1 DNF
2. Dan Cochrane (AU) vs. Sebastien Beltrame (HU) 4-6, 7-5, 1-1 DNF
3. Shaun Chadhuri (HU) def. Dennis Lengsfel (AU) 6-1, 6-2
4. Alex Steinroeder (HU) def. Joseph Van Dooren (AU) 6-3, 6-1
5. Brian Yeung (HU) def. Dante Saleh (AU) 6-3, 7-6 (7)
6. Nicky Hu (HU) def. Oliver Plaskett (AU) 6-0, 6-3
Order of Finish: 6,3,4,5