That's what the '93-94 Ivy League favorite women's tennis team is all about; toughness, mental and physical.
Harvard emerged from the fall season second in the Eastern region behind UVA and entering Spring competition enjoys a national ranking of 33rd--the highest of any Ivy league team. This highest of any Ivy league team. This young team is an easy favorite for the Ivy League Title and an NCAA tourney hopeful.
The fall season was highlighted with definitive wins over Boston University and Boston College and rounded out with a close match against UVA in the finals of the I.T.A. Regional Team Championships. Already, Harvard is showing a vast improvement over its droopy sixthplace finish in the league last year.
"It's whole new team this year," says sophomore Kelly Granat. "We have a new attitude, we're focused and we're tougher. We have some great recruits this year and a lot to build on."
Harvard's construction base was certainly broadened this year with the addition junior transfer Jill Brenner. Brenner, the number-one player in Harvard's line-up, comes to Cambridge from the University of Florida where she was an ALL-SEC singles and doubles player and major contributor to Florida's top national ranking. Individually ranked 23rd in the nation in singles at the end of last season, Brenner brings with her a host of championships and a wealth of experience, including appearances at the Junior French, Italian, and U.S. Opens.
Also with the Crimson this season is freshman Gina Majmudar. Playing second, she comes to Harvard with a 105-1 high school career record and a girls eighteen-and-under ranking of 27th in the country. Both Majmudar and Brenner earned trips to the individual nationals in Texas in February to confirm their top-thirty rankings.
The three, four and five shots are occupied by the sturdy sophomore Kate Roiter, Granat and freshman Mary la Madura, respectively. Roiter was awarded the 1993 Ivy League Rookie-of-the-Year award for her court performance last season as well as a place on the all-Ivy selection in doubles. She has spent the early part of his season fending off a troublesome tendon injury which has temporarily forced her to the sidlines.
"I really think we should do well this year," Roiter said. "I'm very anxious to get back to hitting again."
With its current second place ranking in the Eastern region. Harvard can begin to set its sights not only on an Ivy Title, but also on a possible NCAA Tournament appearance. Because of UVA's withdrawal of its spring scheduled, which effectively dashed Harvard's hopes for a rematch with the Cavaliers, performances when it travels to California for Spring break.
There its will face the likes of UCLA, Pepperdine and U.C. Santa Barbara. Four of the six team on the squad's tour are ranked in the top twenty-five nationally. Wins against such teams could mean a wild-card bid to the NCAA Team tournament come season's end.
"If there is a possibility for us to get a bid, the national committee will need to be able to evaluate us in comparison to other strong clubs," Roiter says. "California will be a good chance for us to prove ourselves."
On its return from the West coast, Harvard will take on the rest of the Ivy League and keep its fingers crossed on May's tournament prospect.