It isn't often that the Harvard squash team finds itself in the role of giant-killer, but the Crimson was equal to the task Saturday and leveled a heavily-favored Penn squad, 6-3.
The win gives Harvard a share of the Ivy League title--its fourth straight--along with Penn and Princeton. The Crimson also has an outside shot of wresting the intercollegiate title from Princeton.
Captain Glenn Whitman was understandably ecstatic after the victory. "Nobody gave us a chance to win the title this year after we graduated four of our top players and Penn grabbed all the top juniors," he said. "This is like Harvard beating Ohio State in football. The whole team has worked together and come a long way this year."
Coach Jack Barnaby said the team rebounded "fantastically" from its 5-4 loss to Princeton two weeks ago. "Against Princeton everyone was nervous; we played a much smarter match today and were at least 30 per cent improved," he said.
Barnaby said that number two man Peter Blasier showed the most improvement. Against the Tigers, Blasier allowed himself to get rattled and dropped a tight match. On Saturday, he disposed of his Quaker opponent in three straight games.
Bill Kaplan at number five and Jim McDonald at number eight also rebounded from weak performances against Princeton. Kaplan came back from a one-game deficit to top his opponent, 7-15, 15-8, 15-7, 18-16. McDonald pulled out a convincing four-game win, 15-11, 8-15, 15-9, 15-12.
Whitman, playing number one, earned the top seed in this week's intercollegiate championships by whipping last year's number three collegiate player, Joe Swain, in three straight games, 15-12, 15-8, 15-4.
Number nine man Cass Sunstein won the closest match of the day. Trailing two games to one and then 9-12 in the fifth game, Sunstein came back to take the last six points and the match, 15-10, 9-15, 9-15, 15-10, 15-12. His win gave the Crimson a 4-1 lead in the match and virtually ensured a Harvard victory.
Dick Cashin picked up Harvard's sixth win at number three, topping Penn's Tom Peck 15-11, 8-15, 15-10, 15-11.
Number six man Jeff Weigand showed great improvement over his Princeton performance, but his experienced Penn opponent overpowered him in four games, 15-11, 17-15, 10-15, 15-9. Fred Fisher lost a hard-fought five-game match at number six, 16-13, 15-12, 12-15, 9-15, 15-12.
Freshman Arch Gwathmey lost a tough match to Penn's Gil Mateer at number four, 15-11, 15-12, 6-15, 15-10. Mateer, a junior, was the number-one-ranked freshman in the country last year.
Harvard, Penn, and Princeton now have each lost one match this season; Harvard to Princeton, Princeton to Penn, and Penn to Harvard. The intercollegiate championship will be decided on the basis of comparative scores against common opponents.
Harvard has lost 11 points this season--five to Princeton, three to Penn, two to Dartmouth and one to Amherst. Princeton has lost just 9, and Penn has lost 13. Harvard should beat Yale 9-0 tomorrow, while Princeton has yet to play either Dartmouth or Amherst. Should Princeton lose a total of two or more points in those matches, Harvard would win the intercollegiate title.