The Harvard men's tennis team has made a season out of surprising other teams.
Thought by many to be a pushover after losing its top five players to graduation last spring, Harvard has instead resumed its long-accustomed position as one of the top programs in the Northeast.
Yesterday at the Beren Tennis Center, Harvard defeated Pennsylvania, 7-0, a score which might have surprised even the Harvard players--just a little bit.
"We weren't expecting it," junior Marshall Burroughs said. "But we're not surprised, though."
According to Assistant Coach Greg Russell, yesterday's cold weather made it tough for the Crimson to get started.
"It was hard for our guys to get the energy going," Russell said. "It was mentally very tough, and the score doesn't really indicate how close the matches were."
Although Pennsylvania is not a particularly strong team, the league win was important for Harvard (3-3 overall, 1-0 Ivy) following their 2-3 spring break performance.
"Penn is going to be strong two or three years for now," Russell said. "[The coach] is developing a good program down there."
And the win was comparatively easy. Only freshman Tod Meringoff, playing in the fourth position, took three sets to dispatch his Penn opponent.
Sophomore Andrew Rueb (the team's top player) and third players junior Umesha Wallooppillai each won second-set tiebreakers, and the rest of the team won in straight sets, Burroughs said.
The gutsiest play of the day, according to Russell, was by freshman Daniel Chung. Chung, playing sixth, was down 5-2 in the first set against his Penn opponent, staving off three set points before winning 7-5, 6-2.
"We're realizing that we can be good," Burroughs said. "But we can't start thinking all Ivy matches are going to be like this."
This year's team is trying to follow in the footsteps of a Harvard squad that made it to the second round of the NCAA championships for the first time ever last spring.
The task is not expected to be easy, but Harvard possesses a lot of the young talent it needs to return to the tournament.