The Harvard women's tennis team survived on early scare, came back and devastated Bulldogs, 7-2, Saturday is New Haven.
The league-landing Crimson (7-3 overall, 3-0 Ivies), found itself down, 2-0, after the upstart Bulldogs knocked off Harvard's top two players.
"We knew going in that they had two very good singles players." Erika Smith, Harvard's number two said.
Meghan McMahon felled Crimson ace Elizabeth Evans in three sets. Connie Yowell followed suit with a 7-6, 6-4 triumph over Smith.
"I thought I could win," Smith said, "but I knew I was in for a dogfight."
Harvard battled back to knot the score at 2-2 with straight set victories by sophomores Robin Boss and Kathy Vigna.
As these four matches finished up, the number five and six singles player, freshman Cyndy Austrian and Captain Debbie Kaufman, were entering the third sets of their extremely tight matches.
All the pressure fell on Austrian and Kaufman to deliver the barn-burners for the Crimson.
"At that point, we were still confident," Kaufman said, "but, just for a second, I realized, gosh, we could be down 4-2."
Kaufman handily disposed of her Eli opponent, 6-1, in the third set, and Austrian came thought with a 6-2 win--propelling Harvard to commanding 4-2 advantage.
"We were blind to the fact that we could be threatened," Kaufman said.
After the singles, however, the threat was over.
The Crimson's smooth, experienced doubles tandems steamrolled over the bulldogs.
The teams of Smith and Vigna, and Kaufman and Roberta Hing notched straight set wins, while Evans and Boss came home with a three-set victory.
Those outcomes were never in doubt. Evans and Boss, along with Smith and Vigna are returning All-Ivy selections--while Evens and Boss garnered All-American honors in 1984.
Nonetheless, when the netwomen return to the courts this Friday, the doubles teams are expected to be tested by a gritty Syracuse squad.
The Crimson dismantled the Orangemen last year, 9-0, and should emerge victorious once again. However, the Cantabs are wary of the Syracuse doubles teams.
After Syracuse, Harvard finishes off its regular season with Cornell, Dartmouth, and Princeton--all at home.
The Crimson seems well on its way to four more wins and reaffirming its Eastern supremacy, but the tension that comes with being the front runner will be haunting Harvard like Blackkbeard's Ghost.
"I don't think there's any pressure on the other teams right now," Smith said, "but we feel the pressure every time we go out there."