Depth and Doubles Carry Crimson to Victory
Coach Jack Barnaby lit his victory cigar an hour early on Saturday as the Harvard tennis team glided past Williams, 6-3. Cigars are not a Barnaby tradition, but winning is, and the Leavitt and Pierce special was in celebration of Barnaby's 300th tennis victory.
Barnaby has been head coach in both tennis and squash for thirty-one years. Earlier this year he passed the 300-win mark in squash on the way to his second straight undefeated season.
"I'm against all systems." Barnaby said when asked what was the key to his success. "In order to make a system work, you have to be able to recruit the players who are right for it, but here at Harvard we work with what we get."
Captain Bill Washauer's praise for his coach was brief and to the point. "Every year Jack gets mediocre talent and yet always comes up with winning teams. Without him Harvard would never be an Ivy League contender, it's as simple as that. And everybody knows that he's the best squash coach around."
"Unlike most coaches I work on individual shots," Barnaby said. "In football you have one-on-one drills and blocking drills. In tennis, you work on spins- a passing shot with top spin is very effective because it dips and is harder to hit. The ordinary spectator wouldn't notice the difference, but it wins points."
"I concentrate on teaching a thinking game. You have to adapt to the strengths of your players, and the guys here at Harvard are strong on brains. They know how to think out on the court, and they pick up new shots very easily," Barnaby said.
Barnaby's greatest success as a tennis coach has come in developing winning doubles. "Tight matches are always decided by the doubles. We've beaten Princeton several times by sweeping the doubles against superior talent."
The results of the Williams match were not as encouraging as the team had hoped. Both Washauer and Dave Fish were off their game. Washauer lost to Chris Warner, 6-4 and 7-6. Under a rule in effect for the first time this year, a 6-6 tie is resolved by a best out of nine point play-off. Warner took five out of the first eight.
Fish lost 6-2, 6-4 to Pike Talbert, but the bottom four all gained easy victories in straight sets. Joe Cavanagh was particularly impressive at number three, winning 6-2, 6-0.
In first doubles Cavanagh and Fish were up 6-0, 5-2, but ended up losing the second set, 6-7. They came back to take the third, 6-2. Barnett and Peter Briggs won their first set in a play-off, but from then on it was all Williams, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2. Washauer and Tom Loring won easily, 6-2, 6-4.
After the match the team celebrated the landmark in Harvard sport history with champagne. Washauer led a toast with a few well-chosen words, "Here's to the first 300, and may there be 300 more."
"My God, I hope not," Barnaby responded, "that would make me 124."