Harvard's determined tennis team shocked Princeton at first and second singles and at first doubles Saturday in a determined effort to upset its guest bid for the EITA title, but the Tigers rallied to capture two of the final three matches and escaped from Soldiers' Field with a tense 5-4 victory.
Blessed with their best team in five years, the Tigers had arrived in Cambridge intent on avenging their 5-4 loss to Harvard last spring at Princeton-a defeat that had cost them sole possession of the EITA crown. But from the first, it seemed as though the Crimson might foil them again.
Harvard junior Joe Cavanagh disposed of Rick Weir, 6-3, 6-1, at number four to put his squad ahead immediately, and while Nielsen battled to push Rich Howell into a third set, Dave Fish was pulling off the biggest upset in the League this spring-at least the biggest until the Bill Washauer-Bobby Goeltz match later that afternoon.
Fish Wins Upset
Colson, the brilliant, sportsmanlike Tiger sophomore, frustrated Fish early in the match with a beautiful display of shotmaking. He won the first set 6-4, and continued to make Fish run desperately in the second.
But the Crimson sophomore continued to hit with Colson, matching him shot for shot, took the second set, 6-3, and in a third set heavy with pressure, whipped him again, 6-4, to send Harvard ahead, 2-0.
Elsewhere on the ladder, however, Harvard was beginning to run into trouble. Scott Rogers defeated Harvard captain Butch Kawakami, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, at number six, and, after winning his first set, Crimson junior Bill Brock was having problems with Mike Shapiro at five.
But then. Washauer pulled the upset at number one that made the Tigers desperate. Pitted against the most talented, and by far the most temperamental, player in the East, Washauer whipped Goeltz, 7-5, in the first set, lost by the same score in the second, and while the Princetonian pouted and complained about a "bad" playing surface and Washauer's "questionable" calls, Washauer won the third, 6-3, to put Harvard ahead, 3-1.
But the Crimson's success began to end. After winning the first set, 6-2, and falling to Nielsen's superb rally, 9-7, in the second, Howell finally put the Crimson junior away, 7-5, on the sixth match point at number three. Brock, previously unbeaten at number five, lost his match, 10-8, 3-6, 5-7, to Shapiro, and now the match was tied going into the doubles.
It was Goeltz, finally playing up to his potential in the doubles, who did Harvard in. Considered a top-notch doubles performer only when teamed with Howell, Goeltz took command impressively at number two.
Playing with Rogers, he almost personally dumped Fish and Cavanagh, 6-1, 6-2, for Princeton's fourth point, and soon after, Weir and Jim Bright defeated Kawakami and Rick Devereux, 6-1, 7-5 at number three, to clinch the match for Princeton.
But Harvard wasn't through just yet. Washauer and Nielsen, rapidly becoming the best doubles unit in the EITA, whipped what had previously been considered the best, Golson and Howell, at number one, 6-2, 6-3, to provide the Crimson's fourth point.
"Nothing personal," Howell said to Nielsen after the match "but I hate playing against Harvard."