Maybe it is pompous to say that anything less than a national intercollegiate championship represents failure--or at least decay--of squash at Harvard. But after winning five national championships in a row, the squash team bears the burden of a remarkable tradition.
That is the kind of pressure that will be on Harvard at 3 p.m. today when it hosts Williams. Currently, Harvard is deadlocked with Navy for the top spot in college squash. Navy defeated Harvard 6-3 at home, but then lost to Penn 5-4 in Philadelphia. Harvard, however, defeated Penn 5-4 in Philadelphia.
Both Harvard and Navy stand at 7-1 for the season, and if the two teams complete the season with identical records, the national championship will be determined by comparative scores against mutual opponents. Right now the comparative scores are almost even, but Navy's 8-1 trouncing of Princeton at Annapolis gives the Middies a slight edge.
Therefore today's match against Williams means a great deal more than victory or defeat. Clarence Chaffee's teams at Williams are never pushovers, but this Harvard team is not likely to be upset at home. The question is how soundly can the Crimson win?
Navy won at Williams, 6-3, and a more decisive Crimson victory today could gain a couple of comparative points for Harvard.
The top five Williams players are all of about the same calibre, and the big battle with Harvard will probably come in the middle of the ladder--at positions three, four, and five. Harvard has lost injured number-two man Rick Sterne for the season, and that leaves Anil Nayar and Jose Gonzalez as Harvard's two big guns.
There is little chance that either Nayar or Gonzalez will lose today. Last weekend, in the national men's championships, Nayar "came of age," according to Coach Jack Barnaby. Nayar swept past Bob Hetherington, 15-9 and 15-9, before he lapsed into a few errors, lost his momentum, and eventually dropped the match. Hetherington reached the finals of the tournament.
In the team division, Gonzalez defeated Larry Sears, the number one player from Chicago and a former Harvard star and national intercollegiate runner-up. Gordy Black also turned in a win for Harvard against Chicago, but without Nayar (who was in the individual tournament) and Sterne, the Crimson bowed, 3-2.