With most top performers returning to each team, Harvard's men's and women's tennis teams are both odds-on favorites to defend their Ivy League titles this year.
But those title defenses must wait until spring. First, fall brings a host of regional and national tournaments for each squad--most notably the ECACs.
Only senior Co-Captain Dave Beckman is lost from the Crimson men's squad, which reached the NCAA tournament with a 16-4 mark last year.
"We'll miss him," admits Harvard Coach Dave Fish, "but I have a lot confidence in the guys below him to move in and fill the hole."
Senior second-year Co-Captain Larry Scott will play a leading role, guiding the netmen from his first singles and first doubles positions.
Scott and his doubles partner Arkie Engle advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in the spring and look to be among the strongest teams in the East this season.
Juniors Billy Stanley, Darryl Laddin and Peter Palandjian are also expected to return to Cambridge in fine form, as are sophomores Paul Palandjian and Matt Porteus.
Additionally, Fish expects freshman Hank Parichabutr--"a very talented player who has done well nationally"--to play a key role on the team.
The squad's first test will come later this month at the New England Championships. The tournament will include the four New England Ivy squads and other top local teams.
"It's a quite competitive tournament," Fish said, "and we have a very good chance to win it."
The Championships will also serve as a tune-up for the ECACs, which take place October 11-12.
The men seem to have everything going their way, but an even rosier picture awaits the women. While losing only two of their top 16 performers from last year, the netwomen had an excellent recruiting year.
"This was probably our strongest recruiting year ever," Assistant Coach John Dinneen says. "It's even stronger than the one just graduated."
The cream of the class of '89 includes Cindy Buchsbaum, Jackie Farrell, Krisitn Bland, Martha Berkman, and Louise Zonis. Denine reports that all have the talent to challenge for varsity spots.
But the Yardlings will not have an easy time cracking the varsity line-up, with Captain Roberta Hing leading a talented group of veterans--including Erika Smith, Kathy Vigna, Robin Boss, and Cindy Austrian--as the women attempt to improve on last year's ranking of 17th in the nation.
"With a little luck, we can crack the top 15 this year," Dinneen says. "Maybe even the top 10."
A third consecutive ECAC championship for Harvard in October would make the Crimson a likely choice for the much-coveted number one ranking in the East, and would improve the Crimson's national standing as well.
Harvard will also host the second annual Harvard Invitational Tournament this fall. Last year's tournament, in which the Crimson placed third, showcased a powerhouse national field that included Texas and Rollins.
This year's tourney looks to draw a similarly talented field, and will give the Cantabs a heavy dose of stiff national competition