It's hour-counting time across campus.
As reading period begins, students from North House to Dunster are keeping one eye focused on books and another on their Coop-bought daily planners, ensuring that enough time is spent studying for each class.
Amidst this dark, frenetic atmosphere, however, a phenomenon of rebellion, of hope, has sprung up. Students are slaying the proverbial dragon of "Thou Shalt" and regretlessly pencilling in what is increasingly being called "sun time," time spent doing the non-constructive--sun bathing, playing frisbee, baseball--or even, for the more Anglophilic, cricket, in one of the more beautiful springs in recent memory.
This weekend, at least one sporting event stands out as offering the ultimate in "sun time:" the NCAA Eastern Regionals tennis tournament at the Beren Tennis Courts.
The meet will feature Harvard and three other teams--Columbia, Princeton and Dartmouth--battling it out for a spot in the round of the "Sweet 16" May 20-21 at South Bend, Ind., and a shot at the national title.
The meet is the first of its kind ever.
"In the past there have been so many good teams out there and so few spots at the NCAA tournament that this year we decided to expand the tournament," Harvard coach Dave Fish said. "It will give more teams a chance to battle it out for the title, and make the whole drive for the championship more exiting."
The Eastern version of the tournament promises to do its part to realize this aim. It will feature both some of the best teams in the country, and some of the most hallowed rivalries.
"This is a tournament that we're really excited about," Fish said. "We're hoping that it's a real Boston area event in which people come form all around to see some of the best tennis in the east."
In the first match of the tournament, on Saturday at 9 a.m., national-power Columbia, the tourney's number-one seed, will take on Dartmouth.
The Lions coasted through league action this year and knocked off some of the squads in the country. The Big Green, on the other hand, always field a tough squad, and have an excellent singles player.
Although Columbia is the favorite, it could realistically be beaten by any of the other teams. Even a first-round upset is not beyond question.
While the first match of the tourney will be exciting, the highlight of the first day--particularly for Harvard fans--will be the 1:30 p.m. match pitting the Crimson against Princeton.
The Harvard-Princeton rivalry is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country, going back more than a century to the days when Harvard fielded the entire U.S. Davis Cup team and, at one point garnered six consecutive national championships.
Although both teams have fallen off slightly compared to the rest of the nation, Saturday's rivarly should have all spirit of the older matches.
While a talent-laden Tiger team will be looking for revenge, the Crimson will be fielding a full line-up without injuries for the first time all season.
The winner of the two contests will then play at 1 p.m. on Sunday for the right to go to South Bend.
"This tournament is really a celebration of New England tennis," Fish said. "We've had a wonderful tradition--the first-ever NCAA match was played in Hartford, and this is a chance to show that it's still alive. It's also a chance just to have a good time and get some sun."
And so, whether tennis fan or not, pay homage to the gods of Harvard's past this weekend, pencil in some sun time and stroll across the river to the tennis center.
You won't regret it.