Seven hours after the end of the match Jim Curley said "my stomach still turns."
The last point of Curley's gut-wrenching 5-4 triumph in the tie-breaker of his third set against the University of Virginia's Harland Stone proved to be the one point that made all the difference as the Harvard men's tennis team opened its '79 spring season by beating the Cavaliers in New Haven, 5-4.
Playing in his first varsity match, sophomore Curley dropped his first set to Stone 6-3. After Curley reversed that score to capture the second set 6-3, the pair traded six service breaks before the score reached 6-6 in the critical third set. Then, at 4-4 in the tie-breaker, Curley, unable to put away three previous match points, set a low backhand volley down the center of court which jammed Stone on his forehand side. The return landed a foot wide of the sideline on Curley's backhand side, and the Crimson had its fourth and in the end, decisive, singles victory.
Two of Harvard's other singles players also lost their first set before adapting to the fast surface of Yale's indoor courts and bouncing back to take the last two sets. Virginia had familiarized itself with the Elis' courts when it dropped its match on Sunday to Yale 17-2.
Moving up to number one to fill the large shoes of graduated captain Todd Lundy, Don Pompan faltered early in his match with Hank Harris. But after losing the first set 3-6, Pompan, gaining confidence and strength as his opponent became increasingly frustrated, took the last two sets 6-4, 6-0.
Captain Kevin Shaw, at number four, also absorbed a first set loss, but then, using his powerful serve to good effect, proceeded to breeze past Geoff MacDonald 6-2, 6-4 in the last two sets.
Number two Scott Walker, the only Crimson player to take his match in straight sets, totally dominated Adam Brock. Pulling ahead early, he used his patented service return to break Brock's serve repeatedly and finish him off in less than an hour, 6-2, 6-4.
Harvard's number three Bob Horne and number six Dick Arnos both dropped their singles matches. Horne, who went undefeated at number six as a freshman, suffered his first varsity singles loss.
With four singles victories under its belt, Harvard needed but one doubles triumph and they got that--and no more. Pompan and Andy Chaikovsky dropped their first set to Virginia's number three singles player Cameron Corse and his partner, Stone, but then roared back to crush the Cavalier pair 6-2, 6-4 in the last two sets. Chaikovsky, playing despite a shoulder injury and serving half-speed to avoid aggravating the injury, said afterwards the shoulder had not bothered him too much. The injury may, however, continue to keep him out of singles competition during the team's trip to California this spring.
The Crimson's top doubles tandem, Shaw and Walker, dropped a three-set, see-saw battle with Harris and Brock, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. At number three, Curley and Arnos, playing together for the first time, dropped a quick match, 6-3, 6-2.