"For us to have beaten them today they would have had to break some ankles," Harvard tennis coach Dave Fish said yesterday evening after his squad dropped its match against unbeaten Princeton, 8-1, in New Jersey.
In scorching weather, powerful Princeton pushed its season's record to 13-0 with a convincing display of its near invincibility. Only Harvard's Bob Horne emerged with his head above water, surviving five match points to edge Princeton number four Jim Zimmerman, 7-6, 1-6, 7-6.
Horne beat an outstanding player. In February this year Zimmerman won the Princeton Invitationals (a tournament that included three All-Americans), beating teammate Jay Lapidus in the process. But he is an erratic player, and yesterday his John Newcombe serve and close to 20 aces could not compensate for an all-around game plagued with inconsistency.
Horne did a super job of battling Zimmerman, passing him occasionally, but primarily waiting for the Tiger giant to dig his grave. "The longer the point went the better chance I had," Horne said last night.
After Zimmerman broke Horne's serve in the first game of the match, he obligingly served two double-faults and dropped his own serve. As a weak lowvolley and groundstroke game prevented Zimmerman from breaking Horne again, the players traded serves until the score reached 6-6. Horne then took all four of Zimmerman's serves in a 5-1 tie-breaker.
Zimmerman stormed back to cruise to an easy second-set victory and seemed poised to win the match serving at 5-3 and 3-1 in the ninth game of the third set. But after Zimmerman missed a backhand volley, and double-faulted, Horne passed him down the line and the set moved to 5-4. At 6-6, Horne swept the tie-breaker, 5-0, the last point coming as Zimmerman netted an approach shot.
Despite the 8-1 score the rest of the Harvard squad played solid tennis. Dan Pompan stayed closer to nationally-ranked Jay Lapidus than the 6-2, 6-3 score indicates, dropping several 3-3 points, including a number of chances to break the Tiger star's serve.
Greg Kirsch continued his outstanding play in taking Princeton number five Adam Ciot to three sets. Ciot played as high as number two for the Tigers in the fall, and beat Pompan in straight sets.
Andy Chaikovsky stayed close to possible All-American Leif Shiras. The 6-4, 6-3 match might have been different had Chaikovsky not volleved the ball into the top of the net with the score 3-3 in the game that gave Shiras his crucial break in the first set.
Fish seemed satisfied that his troops had given a good account of themselves. "They've had a great season," he said yesterday. "To pull themselves together after the Navy defeat, beat Yale so badly and then lose to them by only one point in the New Englands despite having a bad day was just great."
1 SINGLES--Jay Lapidus (P) def. D. Pompan, 6-2, 6-3.
2 SINGLES--L. Shiras (P) DEF. A. Chalkovsky, 6-4, 6-3.
3 SINGLES--S. Melster (P) def. S. Walker, 6-3, 6-0.
4 SINGLES--B. Horne (H) def. J. Zimmerman, 7-6 (5-1 tie-breaker), 1-6, 7-6 (5-0 tie-breaker).