For a tournament that meant very little in terms of team rankings, the Women's Tennis 1994 Harvard Invitational had much of the emotion and grit you'd expect in a regular-season matchup.
The Crimson made its mark in the talented field--consisting of players from Tennessee, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Iowa--by winning two singles flights and playing deep into the draw in the other singles and doubles flights.
Youth provided the spark for the Crimson at third and fifth flight singles as two Harvard freshman, Gabriela Hricko and Gina Suh, won their respective draws.
"It felt good to win my first tournament here," Hricko said.
"It was really great," Suh said. "It was a great chance to get good match experience."
"All five of the freshmen are great players," co-captain Kate Roiter said. "They're all going to help the team a lot this year."
While the freshmen certainly put on a show racing through the draw, the play of the junior captains, Roiter and Kelly Granat was most promising. Roiter advanced to the finals of the second flight singles draw, before losing in the finals to Tennessee junior Melissa Zimpfer.
"I was a little nervous going in," Roiter said. "I had been in a tennis slump the last couple of days."
"Kate played her game to perfection in her first-round match," Graham said. "It looks like she's back on track."
Granat lost in the second round in a close two-set match, but won her consolation match to finish third in her draw.
"Kelly played some of the best and smartest tennis I've seen from her," Graham said. "Both our captains played really good singles and broke out of minor slumps."
"I had a pretty solid tournament," Granat said. "I played better than I thought I would."
Roiter and her doubles partner, sophomore transfer Rona Mayer, placed third in the first doubles draw, winning their consolation match 6-1, 7-5.
"I think we really clicked," Roiter said. "Today's match was my sixth this weekend, so I was a little slower, but Rona really played well."
At second doubles, sophomore Gina Majmudar and freshman Mylin Torres lost in the finals to Nikki Willette and Laura Dvorak, 6-0, 6-4.
"They [Willette and Dvorak] were doing all the right things," Graham said, "They kept the balls at our feet and put away all our floaters."
The other doubles teams did not fare as well over the weekend, however, and doubles play will be a focus for the team going into the October 14-16 ITA Eastern Regional Tournament.
"The doubles matches showed us that some of our combinations may not be the right ones," Granat said. Granat and partner Such lost their first round match in the second doubles flight.
Even with some weaknesses at its doubles positions, the Crimson proved over the weekend that it could play with the elite of women's collegiate tennis. Both Tennessee and Notre Dame figure to be in the top 15 by season's end.
"It was a very encouraging weekend," Granat said. "Almost all the individual matchups we had with Notre Dame and Tennessee were either close or we won."
"It was a really good tune-up for us," Graham said. "We competed really hard, and we also got a chance to see what we should work on."
"We're going to be really good this year," Roiter said.
After the weekend's performances, the optimism in the women's tennis locker room is not unfounded.
Superior talent, depth and leadership could very well earn the Crimson an invitation to the NCAA tournament next spring and may be its own spot in the women's tennis elite.