Netwomen's Tale: East Meets West
In politics, the United States and the Soviet Union are widely recognized as the two superpowers. One is located in the East and one in the West.
In women's tennis, Harvard, ranked 23rd in the country, has been the best team in the East since 1983. The Crimson has won six straight Ivy championships and qualified for five straight NCAA tournament appearances.
And the Crimson is ready to challenge the West.
During spring break, the Crimson will travel to California, where it will take on the University of San Diego, U.S. International, San Diego State, UCLA, Pepperdine and Cal. State-Long Beach. UCLA is ranked fourth in the nation, Pepperdine is ranked 12th, San Diego is 16th, and San Diego St. comes in 18th.
Harvard has already played seven matches this spring. Its 2-5 spring record may be a little deceiving since three of its five losses have come against top-25 teams.
"It would be great if we could come away with a few good wins," Coach Ed Krass said. "We're venturing into some tough competition. The trip will help us when we start our Ivy season."
"We're really looking forward to [the spring trip]," Harvard Co-Captain Kathy Mulvehal said. "We're playing teams that are ranked closer to us. There's potential there to take some really good wins."
There Ivy teams are out to dethrone the Crimson this season. Yale, Dartmouth and Princeton are the only legitimate teams that can challenge the powerful Crimson squad.
How dominating has Harvard been in the Ivies? The Crimson has a 41-match Ivy winning streak dating back to 1983, when the Elis topped Harvard, 6-3. Harvard will be looking for its sixth straight undefeated Ivy season.
"We're excited about the season," Harvard's Christina Dragomirescu said. "It's going to be a tough season. Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth will provide the toughest competition."
"It's going to be a tougher season than a lot of us expected," Mulvehal said. "It's not going to be a total walk-away. Since we lost to William & Mary, all of the matches are important the rest of the way."
The Crimson defeated William & Mary during the fall, but lost to the Indians two weeks ago, 5-4, at Palmer Dixon Courts.
Harvard's first-place finish in the ITCA Eastern Regional Tournament qualifed it for the USTA/ITCA National Indoor Tournament in Minneapolis, March 2-4. Harvard lost to eighth-ranked Kentucky, 5-1, and Wisconsin, 5-2. But the Crimson bounced back to upset 15th-ranked SMU, 5-4.
"We had a big win over SMU," Krass said. "It was a big win for our program. It was real uplifting. The team realizes that if it gives its best individual effort, it can come out of a match with a victory."
With a shoulder injury sidelining Harvard Co-Captain Kristin Bland, the Crimson has had to juggle its lineup. The senior played number-one singles last year. Freshman Kim Cooper is also on the injured list with a shoulder injury.
But the netwomen have three new doubles teams with Bland out. Sophomores Jamie Henikoff and Amy deLone are playing at number one, Mulvehal and Dragomirescu at two, and Jennifer Minkus and Jacki Farrell at three.
"We're strong all the way down," Mulvehal said. "We're still working with the new doubles teams. It takes a few matches to get a new team clicking together."
"We have a lot of depth," Dragomirescu said. "We're pretty equal up and down the lineup."
Before Bland's injury, she and Henikoff were ranked 19th in the country in doubles. The duo finished the fall season with an 8-5 record.
At second doubles, Mulvehal and Dragomirescu are back together again. Two years ago, they teamed up at third doubles. Last year, Dragomirescu played with deLone, compiling a 20-8 record at second doubles.
Dragomirescu played at number-six and seven singles for the Crimson last spring, but the junior has made many improvements in her game. After playing number three during the fall, she has now moved up to number one. Last summer, Dragomirescu was a finalist in the National Amateur Championships.
DeLone is playing number-two singles for the Crimson, hoping to improve on her 16-6 record last year at number five. The sophomore won the Coach: Ed Krass Captains: Kristin Bland, Kathy Mulvehal Last Year: (20-8, 7-0) 1989 Record: (2-5) Home Meets: Beren Tennis Center The Schedule
March Sat, 25 at Univ. of San Diego 10:00 a.m. Mon, 27 at U.S. International 1:30 p.m. Tue, 28 at San Diego State 2:00 p.m. Wed, 29 at UCLA 3:00 p.m. Thu, 30 at Pepperdine 1:30 p.m. Fri, 31 at Cal. State-Long Beach 2:00 p.m.
April Fri, 7 at Pennsylvania 2:00 p.m. Sat, 8 at Columbia 1:00 p.m. Fri, 21 at Yale 2:00 p.m. Sat, 22 at Brown 1:00 p.m. Wed, 26 at Dartmouth 2:00 p.m. Fri, 28 SYRACUSE 2:00 p.m. Sat, 29 CORNELL 12:00 p.m.
May Wed, 3 PRINCETON 2:00 p.m. National Amatuer singles championship in Augustby defeating Princeton's Diana Gardner, thetop-ranked player in the east.
Henikoff, who is playing at number-threesingles, went undefeated last year in Ivy singlesand doubles matches. She teamed up with Bland towin the 1988 ITCA Eastern Regional Rolex Doublestournament. Henikoff posted a 6-7 singles recordand an 8-5 doubles mark last fall.
At number-four singles is Jacki Farrell, whowon the New England Women's Open last June with aconvincing win over Princeton's Gardner.
Mulvehal, who competed in the numbers four tosix slots, finished with a 27-7 singles mark lastyear. She has never lost an individual Ivy singlesmatch during her four-year career at Harvard. Shefinished 7-0 last year.
The senior went undefeated during the ITCAtournament held earlier in the month. Mulvehal isone of the toughest players to beat at thenumber-five position.
At number six and seven, Nicole Rival andfreshman Jennifer Minkus have switched back andforth so far this year.
Minkus won the flight-six singles at theSyracuse Invitational and has made a lot ofprogress since her arrival at Harvard. AgainstSMU, she teamed up with Farrell to clinch thefifth match for the Crimson.
Rival posted a 2-1 record last fall. She alsodefeated Fordham's numberone JV singles player togive the JV team its first-ever win over Fordham.
The Race Is On
With the loss of only one player from lastyear's 20-7 team, the team has a strong nucleus ofplayers returning and a host of experienced ones,too.
"It's going to be a close race," Krass said."We can't take anything for granted."
The Harvard JV team is also looking for anothersuccessful season. The roster: Carolyn Barnett,Eva Blazek, Debbie Cohen, Lisa Cutone, LynnDavenport, Kirsten Dirksen, Stacey Greenebaum,Sharon Kosakowski and Roopal Shah