While the rest of Harvard was sliding in the slush, unpacking frisbees, or still choosing courses in anticipation of spring, the tennis team performed its own ritual as it opened its season at the University of Wisconsin in the Men's Intercollegiate Tennis tournament.
The rosters of the teams participating in the 16-team tournament read like a Who's Who of collegiate tennis, with many of the top-ranked netters migrating to dairyland. Harvard and Princeton, co-champions of last year's Easterns, were the only representatives from the East.
Harvard drew LSU in Friday's first round and came within a whisker of shaving the nationally ranked Tigers. The Crimson smashed to a 4-0 lead in the singles but folded in the number five and six matches, and then lost all three doubles matches to their tourney-experienced opponents.
Even though it was called the consolation bracket, Harvard had to face the University of Texas, ranked in the nation's top ten. The Longhorns hooked the Crimson, 7-2, as only number six A1 Bunis and first doubles Dan Waldman and Cliff Adler prevented a whitewashing.
Adler and Waldman won 7-5, 7-5, at eight in the morning. "It was a good win for us," Waldman said yesterday. "It showed that we can handle the competition," he added.
Sooners Were Better
In the final round the winless Crimson paired off against the Oklahoma Sooners, a tennis team that wins as often as that university's famous football team. After splitting the singles, 3-3, the netters went down, 5-4, in a match tighter than court time at Palmer-Dixon.
Second-ranked Todd Lundy came back to win his match in the third set, 6-4, in a marathon duel. Lundy was down one set and losing 5-2 in the second before rallying to sink his Sooner foe.
Lundy also won in doubles competition.
"Lundy played really well," a satisfied coach Dave Fish commented yesterday. "Also, Dan Waldman performed unbelievably. Every match he played, he played great," Fish added.
"The tournament was an unbelievable experience for the fellows. They got some early experience before our southern trip and exposed them to the top players and teams in the country."
In the Oklahoma match, Adler and Waldman almost won it all for Harvard in their final doubles match. They were up, 5-2, in the final set but their rivals broke service and eked out a victory on the final point of the tie-breaker. "We relaxed too much when we were ahead but they are not much better," Waldman said.
"We showed these teams, with all their players on scholarship, that Easterners can play tennis. We can play anybody in the top 20," Waldman added confidently.