Pssst... Don't tell anyone, but Princeton first singles player Jay Lapidus sweats. You'd never know it if you watch him from the dim confines of the Palmer-Dixon stands, but if you get down close you can see that the Tiger ace does in fact exert at least a little effort.
A capacity crowd of over 100 watched Lapidus smoothly lead a ferocious Tiger squad to a convincing 7-2 win over the Crimson. The loss drops the netmen to a 6-1 Eastern League mark, while simultaneously crushing their title hopes.
Princeton, which now sports a perfect 8-0 record, has virtually clinched the title, having only to beat a weak Dartmouth squad next week.
What Lapidus doesn't do is exert himself needlessly. He only pushes himself far enough to win--which he does often, and consistently. Yesterday came Crimson number one Don Pompan's turn to lose, and although he put up a creditable battle, came away with nothing but blisters and a 7-6, 6-2 loss.
The first set wasn't as close as it looked. Pompan pulled out all the stops in an effort to stop the unstoppable Tiger ace, and had lost all his power by the time the set extended into the tiebreaker. Lapidus's mastery over the match became evident in the tiebreaker, and he cruised to a 5-1 decision.
Throughout the match Pompan had trouble returning his opponent's thundering serves, and more importantly, keeping up with Lapidus's booming, finely placed baseline-to-baseline backhand shots. Pompan played dangerously anytime he ventured into the forecourt, since Lapidus's crosscourt shots nearly inevitably shot past his racquet and bounced within a few inches of the sideline.
Also in the first round, Mike Terner fell to Jim Zimmerman in the number four slot, 6-4, 7-5, while Greg Kirsch, who was filling in for Bob Horne, the injured Crimson captain, lost to Tiger freshman Flip Ruben, 7-5, 6-4.
Terner lost a crucial three-all point at 5-6 in the second set, failing to force a tiebreaker. For most of the afternoon, Terner seemed unable to push his shots past Zimmerman's rangy 6-ft., 3-in, frame, and fell to the Princetonian's superior serve and net play.
In the second set of three matches, number two Howard Sands and third slotter Warren Grossman posted impressive victories over Steve Meister and Leif Shiras, respectively.
The Sands-Meister match followed a familiar pattern for the yardling. Sands played a basically conservative, controlled game, neither allowing nor forcing service breaks on the way to a 7-6, 6-4 win. He answered power with finesse, crushing Meister's net game with a devastating and frequently used lob.
The final point of the 5-1 first set tiebreaker was one such perfect shot. As soon as Meister approached the net, Sands delicately let loose a soft lob which bounced within a foot of the baseline to clinch the first Crimson sets of the afternoon.
Grossman maintained his unblemished Eastern League record by downing Shiras, 6-7, 6-1, 7-6. After narrowly losing the tiebreaker in the first set. Grossman rebounded to capture the second easily. Down 4-5 in the third set. Grossman managed to keep his serve, but then lost the game at 5-5. At 5-6, he put away a shot from the net to force a tiebreaker.
Since a loss would have given the Tigers an unbeatable 5-1 lead, Grossman's game put the team match on the line. He won a 5-4 tiebreaker to save the Crimson from pre-doubles defeat. After Shiras broke serve to gain a 4-3 advantage, Grossman forced two mistakes to win the match.
But that was the last of the bright spots for the Crimson, as Adam Beren had already been wasted by Princeton number five Steve Feinberg, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. The doubles opened with more of the same, as Pompan and Sands succumbed quickly to Lapidus and Shiras, 6-1, 6-4, to extinguish the last Crimson hopes of a team victory.
In the two final, meaningless doubles matches, Grossman and Beren lost to Meister and John Low, 6-4, 6-4, while Kirsch and Terner fell to Adam Cioth and Zimmerman by a hopelessly drawn out 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 score.