Three Ways to Spend Xmas Vacation:

Racquetmen Court Manhattan...

They do things big in New York City, right? So naturally the squash tournament in which five Crimson racquetmen participated over the vacation had to have un nombre grande. And it did.

How about the National Invitational Intercollegiate, staged December 22 and 23 at the University Club in downtown Manhattan, which received' a big performance from Harvard's second and third-ranked players?

Captain Bill Kaplan and sophomore John Havens each made it into the semifinals of the tournament, which draws, as the name suggests, the best intercollegiate players in the country. In this case, though, intercollegiate is virtually synonymous with Ivy League.

Kaplan, the Crimson's second and the tourney's third seed, made it to the finals a year ago. This time he met his match in the semis in Princeton's ace Tommy Page, who emerged with a four-game triumph.

Havens upset fourth-ranked Bob Callahan in the early going, but couldn't make it past tourney favorite Gil Mateer in the penultimate round, also falling in four games. Mateer, the defending champ, then lost to Page in the finals.

Earlier in the competition, Mateer had defeated Scott Mead, Harvard's number seven man, while Mark Panarese and Ned Bacon, four and five on the Crimson ladder, fell in the round of sixteen.

"Bill and Mark played well," Havens said yesterday afternoon, his tour of the Big Apple complete. "I played alright, and had a good win against Callahan (Havens rebounded from a 2-0 deficit), but basically this tournament is instructive."

"Instructive" means that the Harvard players paid more than casual attention to the nuances of the Princeton and Penn performers, whom they will meet on the other side of exams.

In the meantime, there's Williams and Dartmouth next week, when the entire team goes back to the court.

"We learned a lot," Havens concluded, "in terms of how we should practice in order to beat Princeton and Penn in the dual matches."

They also learned a lot about tongue-twisters. Ready? Say National Invitational Intercollegiate five times fast. National Invitational Intercollegiate, National Invitational Intercollegiate, National Invitational Intercollegiate....