Campus & Community

Men’s tennis nets win-win

3 min read

Teammates Li, Chiou vie for February Open title, Crimson doubles excel

Harvard sophomore Brandon Chiu crushes a serve in first-round singles action at the USTA Men's February Open at the Murr Center on Feb. 20. Chiu won the match, 6-2, 6-4, before falling in the next round to former William and Mary standout Trevor Spracklin. (Staff photo Lindsay Pierce/Harvard News Office)

After fighting off a host of collegiate and professional players from across the country, Harvard tennis teammates (and doubles partners) Jack Li ’07 and Chris Chiou ’05 eventually found themselves in the midst of a civil war. In semifinal singles action in the first annual USTA Men’s February Open, which concluded on Feb. 22 at the Murr Center, Li dismissed former Duke standout Alberto Brause, 6-3, 6-3, just as Chiou knocked off top-seeded pro Trevor Spracklin 7-6 (4), 6-4, setting up an All-Crimson final.

Against Chiou, Li took an early lead in the first set before twice dropping his serve. The freshman then stood by as his 4-1 advantage turned into a 5-4 deficit to force a tiebreaker, before recouping the aggressive play he exhibited earlier in the set to take the tiebreaker and match – and the inaugural Harvard-hosted February Open – 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Harvard players also prevailed in doubles competition, though without having to go against their own. The new tandem of junior Jonathan Chu and second-year Brandon Chiu proved their mettle as the No. 1 seed, downing the No. 4-seeded Kip Rogers and former Brown Bear Chris Drake in the semis, 6-4, 6-4. Things got less easy in the finals as the Chu-Chiu combo split the first two sets with second-seeded Trevor Spracklin and Alex Howard – 4-6, 6-3 – before putting the match away with a 6-4 win.

Senior Chris Chiou has an eye for the ball during his opening round victory over David Marshall. Chiou faced three Harvard teammates on his way to the finals, eventually losing to fellow Crimson Jack Li '07, 7-6 (4), 6-3. (Staff photo Jon Chase/Harvard News Office)

As the doubles champs, Chu and Chiu outlasted two Crimson pairs in first-years Shantanu Dhaka and Gideon Valkin, who fell in the opening round, and in Scott Denenberg ’07 and Caleb Gardner ’06, who put up a good fight in the quarterfinals against Rogers and Drake before they were overwhelmed, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 4-6.

While this past weekend’s competition had no impact on Harvard’s record, the Crimson (3-2, 0-0 Ivy), currently ranked No. 21 in the nation following a solid outing at the USTA/ITA Indoor Team Championships in Seattle earlier this month, will return to dual-meet action on Feb. 29. Harvard will face No. 27 Auburn at the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., before returning to Cambridge for a pair of matches opposite New Mexico and Furman on March 5 and 6.