The men's tennis team played its final home match of the season on Sunday, rallying to defeat Dartmouth 6-1 after a disappointing 5-2 loss to Harvard on Friday. The Bears are now tied with Harvard and Yale for third in the Ivy League, behind Columbia and Cornell.
"We played incredibly well in the Harvard match, so the guys could be proud of that," said Head Coach Jay Harris. "The Harvard loss was certainly a very tough one to stomach, but this group of guys is so close that they just knew they wanted to go out (against Dartmouth) and win a match for each other and feel that good result that would show their efforts."
Harvard 5, Brown 2
At Harvard on Friday, the Bears dropped the doubles point to give the Crimson the early 1-0 edge.
At third doubles, Kendrick Au '11 and Charlie Posner '11 fell, 8-4, to Michael Hayes and Alistair Felton, and at second doubles, captains Chris Lee '09 and Basu Ratnam '09 lost to Aba Omodele-Lucien and Sasha Ermakov by a narrow 9-7 margin. Sam Garland '09 and Noah Gardner '09 triumphed over Chris Clayton and Alexei Chijoff-Evans by a score of 8-7 (9-7), but it was too little too late.
The Crimson increased its lead when Jonathan Pearlman '11 dropped a 6-3, 6-4 match to No. 77 Clayton at first singles. Garland defeated Harvard's Davis Mangham, 6-3, 6-4, at fourth singles, but Lee, Gardner and Au all lost three-set matches at second, fifth and sixth singles, respectively, giving Harvard the victory.
"The conditions at Harvard were pretty tough with gusty winds," Lee said. "In such conditions, it's really about playing smart tennis. I played decently, but obviously I wish I had come up with shots on big points."
At third singles, Skate Gorham '10 outlasted Ermakov, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, for a final match score of 5-2.
"The match was so close that two points — one on Noah's court and one on Kendrick's court — could have switched the match from a 5-2 loss to a 4-3 win," Garland said. "Both of them had match points in their singles matches. It could not have been closer."
Brown 6, Dartmouth 1
Sunday's match against Dartmouth also marked Senior Day for the Bears, and a reception followed the match.
"Playing in front of our great home crowd for the final time was extremely emotional," Lee said. "It was a bittersweet moment because I was so proud to have been able to represent and play for Brown these past four years, but I was also so sad to see it come to an end."
The Bears surrendered the doubles point to the Big Green with losses at first and second doubles. Au and Pearlman trounced Chris Ho and Justin Tzou, 8-3, at third doubles, but Gardner and Garland dropped an 8-6 decision to Michael Laser and Stephen Greif at first doubles, while Lee and Ratnam fell, 9-7, to Ari Gayer and Curtis Roby at second doubles.
"Unfortunately, I think the four seniors, who are incredibly close, wanted to win so badly for each other that they sort of froze a bit in the doubles, which resulted in a couple tough losses and the loss of the doubles point," Harris said. "But after that, these guys regrouped and stormed through the Dartmouth team."
At first singles, Lee's opponent, Greif, retired from the match at 2-1. When two foul balls from the nearby baseball field, Murray Stadium, landed inside the tennis courts, according to Lee, Greif decided not to continue the match.
"My final home match is one I will never forget because of some strange circumstances," Lee said. "My opponent retired not because he was hurt, but because he was afraid of the fly balls from the baseball game landing on our court. Obviously, I would have loved to play out an entire match on Senior Day."
"I am not sure which was scarier, the foul ball or Chris," Harris said.
At second singles, Pearlman recorded his 26th singles victory of the season — eighth all-time at Brown — with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Roby. Garland defeated Gayer, 6-0, 7-6, at third singles, and Gorham notched a 6-3, 6-4 win over Laser at fourth singles.
"Sam and Skate played exceptionally well," Harris said.
At fifth singles, Au triumphed over Ho by a score of 7-6, 6-2. Meanwhile, at sixth singles, Crystal soundly defeated Bryan Song, 6-4, 6-4, for the first Ivy League win of his career.
For the seniors, the day's victory was bittersweet.
"After the matches, I went up to the net and just remembered some of the great times I have had as a member of Brown Tennis," Lee said. "I am really sad right now to know that I will never again be able to hear my name introduced over the loudspeaker, never compete against rival Ivy schools and never again play in front of our great fans. But the reason I am most sad is because (when I graduate) I will not be able to see some of my best friends in the world every day."
Garland shared similar sentiments as he reflected upon the weekend, saying, "The Harvard loss certainly stung, but the bond I have with the team as well as the three other seniors will be more beneficial in the long run than any single loss."
"Thank you to the fans who helped us make so many memories over the years," he added.
The Bears' final match of the season will take place today at 2 p.m. in New Haven, where Brown will battle Yale for a shot to finish second in the Ivy League.
"Simply put, we are looking to play our best and most complete match of the year," Harris said. The graduating seniors are "a very special class, and it is one that I, as a coach, am extremely close with," he added. "They have inspired me to be a better coach and a better person, and I am deeply indebted to them for that."