When the men's tennis team boards the friendly skies of United this Thursday and flies towards California's sunny shores to take on top ten teains USC and University of Arizona--along with a star studded array of lesser deities--they will have two things in mind.
First, thay have the talent and the experience to compete with any team in the nation. Second, this trip is their chance to prove it.
Last year at this time, with freshmen occupying four of the top six slots, the Crimson netmen were busy "rebuilding." This predominatly fledgling squad then proceeded to capture second in both the Ivies and Easterns while coasting to an 8-1 record.
If this was the result of a year's effort to "re-build," one might ask what this years' seasoned squad--which didn't lose any of the top six singles players to graduation--can hope to accomplish.
Most immediately, the netmen have a chance to make the West Coast big boys sit up and take notice that Harvard tennis has come of age. But ask any member of the team and his thoughts will wander homeward. He will reply simply and without hesitation, "Beat Princeton."
Not without reason. Last year a loss to a formidable Princeton squad marred the Crimson's otherwise perfect record while simultaneously dashing championship dreams. This year, with any luck, history will repeat itself--but with one exception.
A glance at the roster adequately justifies the team's expectations. This year the squad will be ably led by sophomore Howard Sands, a top ranked player at the junior national level and a veteran of both junior Wimbledon and US Open Competition, who boasts perhaps the best strokes in college tennis.
Following Sands in the number two slot will be caption Don Pompan. Pompan, in his final year of competition, has represented Harvard at the NCAA championships for the last two consecutive years and has consistently played up to par with the best the Ivies have to offer.
Sophomore Adam Beren--the team's standout' in terms of sheer strength and the most improved player back from last year will be the number three singles position. Mike Terner and his renowned backhand will follow Berne--who played at five and six last year--in the fourth slot.
Alex Sever and ace server Paul Lennon--both up from the J.V.'s will take on all comers in the fifth and sixth positions.
A final player that can't be overlooked is sophomore Warren Grossman. Grossman, who finished out last year at number three, has started off slowly, but aided buy his speed and agility can be expected rapidly to become a top contender again this season. Grossman will start the season at third doubles with Pompan.
"As a team we're quick and fast. We're predominantly all-around players that won't rely on power serves," says Pompan of the squad.
By crushing University of Richmond last week without dropping a single match, the Crimson has begun what should prove to be a trend. Indeed, assistant coach Don Usher anticipates that the first real competition the Crimson will face is in-their head-to-head confrontation with Princeton. Harvard has not defeated the Tiger since 1976.