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The best in the Northeast, the best in the Southeast, the best in the Southwest will all be there.
Not the best of the west, but certainly the best of the rest.
The Harvard Invitational Women's Tennis Tournament will be played today, tommorow and Sunday at the Beren Tennis Center.
The Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Clemson, Rollins, Syracuse, and William & Mary women's tennis teams--all powerhouses--will participate.
"The best college event in the Boston area of the year," Harvard Coach Don Usher says.
The tournament will have a new format this year. Individual players will be competing for singles and doubles honors, but there will not be a team title.
The change stems from a new NCAA rule limiting the number of appearances players may make in the course of the year.
"Players are allowed to play in only thirty--five contests each year, and each day of a team tournament is considered a contest," says Coach Don Usher. "If it is played for individual flights, it will only be considered one contest."
Three of the eight teams who will vie for the titles in the individual flights at Harvard were ranked in the nation's top 20 for last year.
Texas--ranked ninth--will bring an 18-match winning streak with it to Cambridge. And that isn't all U.T. will bring. The Lady Longhorns will have Beverly Bowes, Anne Grousbeck, and Michelle Carrier in tow.
Bowes, a two time all-American, has plenty of skill and experience as well as determination. She was ranked first in the country for most of the '84-'85 season.
The doubles duo of Grousbeck and Carrier has also dominated tennis in the Southwest.
Clemson, too, is a team to be feared.
Tigers Tara Hoffer and Inglese Drichuis are ranked by the World Tennis Association, and have lived up to their reputations so far this year.
Beating Nicole Stafford of Clemson will be no easy feat for Harvard's undefeated Kristin Bland in the B flight. Stafford is a returning all--American and is seeded second in the flight.
Bland, however, is not intimidated.
"When it comes time to play, you have to forget reputations, concentrate on the game, and forget the past," the freshman says. "If I go on thinking about seed or rank, I'll lose."
Marianne Groat--another Tiger--will be a tough opponent for the Crimson. She is ranked among the top 100 tennis players in the world, and second in Canada.
The University of Florida team--ranked fifth last year--will be lead by Lady Gator Tammy Withering. She had a 30-4 mark in singles and 22--7 slate in doubles last year.
Also watch Jan Martin (21-8 in singles, 27-1 in doubles) and Jill Hetherington (23--6, 27-1).
Harvard itself--ranked 18th last season--is no paper tiger.
The Crimson won the ECAC tournament last weekend at Princeton, with solid performances in all flights. It also fared very well in an individual-flight tournament at Syracuse.
Freshman Kristin Bland is undefeated so far this season and Kathy Vigna has claimed three straight. Erica Smith--a finalist and semi-finalist in her last two outings--and Cindy Buchsbaum are also forces to be reckoned with.
"The idea of the tournament is for the Eastern teams to get the opportunity to play national competition," Usher says.