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Harvard Downs Men's Tennis in Season Opener

By Daniel Wang
Team Member

The men's tennis team opened its spring season last Wednesday, against Harvard University's "B" squad, at the J.B. Carr Indoor Tennis Center. Playing with the new Division I format of scoring matches, MIT dropped a 6-1 decision. The Engineers are 2-3 for the 1993-94 season, with all of their losses coming to Division I opponents. Despite the wide margin of defeat, many of the individual matches were fairly close.

Jay Muelhoefer '94, playing the top singles spot, captured the lone win, over Ajay Mathur, 6-3, 6-3. Muelhoefer captured most of his points by using his big serve-and-volley game, which either allowed hit winners, or force errors by his opponents. Although he put only 52 percent of his first serves in the court, he fired 29 service winners in the match, including 7 aces. Muelhoefer owns the team's best individual record for the season, with 5 wins and 3 losses.

Right next to Muelhoefer, second singles player Mauricio Lomelin faced a 4-1 deficit against Martin Olsson. Lomelin came close to closing the gap, but dropped the set, 6-4. He fought hard in the second set, but was edged by the steady play of his opponent, losing, 6-3.

The low point of the match came at the third and fourth singles position. Mark Erickson '94 at third singles, was overpowered and overwhelmed by Adam Valkin, 6-1, 6-2. Nick Tsai '94, who played later on, because the site has only four courts, had trouble getting things going in his match with Saam Morsted. Tsai fell behind, 6-1, 5-0, but fought back to 5-4 before his opponent was able to string enough points together to capture the final game.

While seniors occupied the top of the lineup, freshmen members filled the bottom positions. Jason Weintraub '97, at fifth singles, one spot higher than he had played in the fall, struggled in the first set against Cesar Couide, falling behind, 5-1, before losing the set, 6-2. In the second set, however, Weintraub outlasted his opponent with his tough and steady baseline play. Unfortunately, Couide regrouped and captured the final set rather easily, with a 6-1 result.

Rob Marcato '97 played a tough match at sixth singles, staying close the whole way before dropping a 6-4, 6-3 decision to Stuart Murray. Marcato showed a lot of potential, displaying an aggressive attacking style much like that of Muelhoefer.

MIT entered two new pairs into the doubles portion of the match. Since Tsai, Muelhoefer's regular doubles partner, was still playing his singles matches, coach Jeff Hamilton had Muelhoefer play with Erickson, in order to finish the team match as soon as possible. The two played fairly well together, gaining a 3-2 lead against Mathur and Olsson before having their serve broken. The Harvard team came back, and established enough of a lead to stay ahead of, and defeat Muelhoefer and Erickson, 8-6.

At third doubles, Hank Lin '97 made his varsity debut, playing with Marcato. Although the two had never played together before, they put a good fight against Valkin and Murray. The Harvard team proved to be a little bit better, winning over the MIT pair, 8-4.

Tsai and Weintraub were scheduled to play at second doubles, but played the last two singles matches that finished. Due to time constraints, and the doubles point having already been decided (in the Division I format, the team who wins the best of three doubles matches earns a point towards the overall score), their doubles match was not played.

The team will play its next match at home on April 1 against the University of Vermont, another Division I foe. The contest will be a prelude to a full schedule of competitions throughout the month.