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Columbia Advances to Round of 16, Harvard Stopped in Second Round in NCAA Men's Tennis Championship

Columbia Advances to Round of 16, Harvard Stopped in Second Round in NCAA Men's Tennis Championship


Portions courtesy of Columbia Media Relations/Sports Information

NASHVILLE, Tenn. & NORMAN, Okla. -- Columbia continued its storybook season by advancing to the Round of 16, while Harvard was halted in its bid to move beyond the second round in the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship.

Columbia, the national No. 16 seed, fought off a tough Vanderbilt squad to squeeze out a 4-3 victory on the Commodores' home courts to become just the second Ivy League men's tennis team to reach the quarterfinals and a trip to Athens, Ga. next weekend. Meanwhile, second-seeded Oklahoma was just too much for Harvard (18-8, 6-1 Ivy League) and posted a 4-0 win at the Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion.

The Lions (22-1, 7-0 Ivy) now has the tough task of No. 1 seed Southern California on Friday, May 16 at 9 a.m.

The match with Vanderbilt played out like a good sports movie. Great tennis played in front of a boisterous crowd, but at the end of three and half hours, there was one court playing -- No. 1 singles.

As Winston Lin's toughness showed in a gritty, three-set match, so did Columbia's.

The Lions, who are 42-16 overall in doubles matches this year, lost the doubles point. Lin and Mike Vermeer won easily at No. 3, 8-2, while #12 Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur lost to the #4 doubles team of Austin Gonzales and Ryan Lipman at No. 1. Bert Vancura and Richard Pham lost at No. 2 doubles 8-7 (7-2) in a tie-breaker that extended doubles play for a full hour.

With the temperature in the mid-80s, decent humidity and blazing sun, it was the hottest day either team had played in all year, but both teams played well through the conditions. 

Vameer won his first set at No. 6 rather quickly, 6-1. Lin lost his first set to Gonzales 6-2 shortly thereafter, as did Schnur at No. 2 (6-3). Vancura took his first set 6-4, but Drago Ignat and Narayana's first sets at No. 3 and No. 4 were much longer. Narayana pulled out a gritty tie-break win 7-6 (7-4), while Ignat lost 7-5. Lin won his second set, 6-3 to send No. 1 singles to a third.  To give a perspective on time, Lin was starting his third set as Ignat was finishing his first. 

At that point, Columbia had started to pull away at No. 5 and No. 6. Vermeer was cruising in the second set before Ryan Smith came back and went up 5-4. As Vermeer tried to close out his match, Vancura was up two breaks at No. 5. Vancura won his second set 6-3, just seconds before Vermeer clinched his match at 7-5, to give Columbia the 2-1 lead.

"It was really important for us to win those two matches (No. 5 and No. 6)," Vermeer said. "Going up 2-1 gives a lot of energy to the others guys to keep fighting."

Schnur continued to rally on court 2, sending his second set to a tie breaker. As Schnur lost 6-3, 7-6 (2) at No. 2, Narayana was battling leg cramps up two breaks at No. 4. As Narayana put his match away with the 6-4 win in the second set, Lin was up 4-0 in the third set at No. 1, with Ignat still in the second set at No. 3.

"I started to cramp at 4-0," Lin said. "I've been sick, so I wasn’t hydrated enough. I had to choose my moments when to expend energy. I gave up games when he served, and I put it all out there when I served. At 5-2 he (Gonzales) started playing really well. I think he knew I was cramping but there was nothing I could do. When I was serving at 5-4, I was just hoping I could battle. It was a crazy, tough match."

Up 5-4, Lin served for the set and the match, sending Columbia to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in school history and just the second time in Ivy League history.

"I think all of us would agree, that if we want one guy out there at the end, it’s Winston (Lin)," Vancura, who earned Columbia’s first win of the day at No. 5, said. "He played so well and he was so tough. It was our goal all year -- make it to Georgia."

Bid Goswami, the Columbia Tennis Alumni and Friends Head Coach of Men's Tennis, summed up the match perfectly.

"It was all courage. Every kid fought with all they had. Ashok had to underhand serve at one point because of cramps. All the work our kids do, that is why we play another day. Vanderbilt is a good team. To beat them on their court, in front of a great crowd is a tough thing to do. They beat Georgia here. I am so proud of all of them. Instead of going to Disney, we're going to Athens."

Over in Norman, Okla., the Sooners (25-3, 4-2 Big 2) controlled Harvard throughout, first securing the doubles point with wins on courts 1 and 2. In singles, Oklahoma cruised to three straight-set victories on courts 1, 2 and 5 to move on to the Round of 16 for the second-straight season and give head coach John Roddick his 100th career victory.

#16 Columbia 4, #19 Vanderbilt 3
1. #4 Austin/Lipman (VU) def. #12 Narayana/Schnur (CU) 8-4
2. Eswaran/Smith (VU) def. Vancura/Richard Pham (CU) 8-7 (7-2)
3. Lin/Vermeer (CU) def. Johnson/Pen Binet (VU) 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2

1. #17 Winston Lin (CU) def. #21 Gonzales Austin (VU) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. #59 Ryan Lipman (VU) def. Max Schnur (CU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2)
3. Kris Yee (VU) def. Dragos Ignat (CU) 7-5, 6-3
4. Ashok Narayana (CU) def. Rhys Johnson (VU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
5. Bert Vancura (CU) def. Suresh Eswaran (VU) 6-4, 6-3
6. Mike Vermeer (CU) def. Ryan Smith (VU) 6-1, 7-5
Order of Finish: 5, 6, 2, 4, 3, 1*
#2 Oklahoma 4, #31 Harvard 0
1. Nguyen/Casey MacMaster (HU) def. Alvarez/Webb (OU) 8-5
2. Alcorta/Harris (OU) def. Hu/Yeung (HU) 8-6
3. Ghilea/Papac (OU) def. Beltrame/Schultz (HU) 8-7(12-10)
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3

1. Guillermo Alcorta (OU) def. Denis Nguyen (HU) 6-2, 6-2
2. Axel Alvarez (OU) def. Sebastien Beltrame (HU) 6-0, 6-1
3. Dane Webb (OU) vs. Shaun Chadhuri (HU) 7-5, 3-2 DNF
4. Andrew Harris (OU) vs. Alex Steinroeder (HU) 6-7(4-7), 2-2 DNF
5. Austin Siegel (OU) def. Brian Yeung (HU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-0
6. Alex Ghilea (OU) vs. Nicky Hu (HU) 6-3, 5-6 DNF
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 5*