Consistency has been the watchword for the Harvard women's tennis team. That unfailing routine includes a top spot in the Ivy League, an always strong showing in the East Regional Tournament and outstanding individual performances from the top singles and doubles spots.
Unfortunately in recent years, that consistency has also including crushing, season-ending losses to William & Mary at the East Regional Tournament.
Last spring, ranked third entering the tournament, the Crimson cruised through the first round with a convincing 5-0 defeat of Virginia Tech.
Then, in arguably the match of the season, Harvard delivered a come-from-behind, five-hour 5-4 victory over the No. 2 seeded Alabama team.
The gutsy performance saw second-team All-Ivy selection Gabriela Hricko and then freshman Vedica Jain post two crucial three-set wins after the team's top two singles positions fell to the Crimson Tide.
"The Alabama match was the toughest for us. It was the most heart we put into a match," said the team's captain, Gina Majmudar '97.
That emotional victory not only catapulted the Crimson into the final round against William & Mary, but it also marked the team's 20th win of the season, equalling a program record.
As it has happened many times before, however, the Crimson could not find the magic number 21 against the Tribe.
As it had against Alabama, the top singles positions had difficulty finding a "W", while the doubles effort rebounded well, but in the end could not muster enough fuel to bounce the eventual East Regional Champions.
"It was a very good tournament for us," said Coach Gordon Graham after the season-ending tournament. "One a 10-point scale, I'd give it an eight."
That loss could not deter from what had been a record season for the Crimson. Not only did it post the most wins in the program's history, but it also saw the emergence of many bright young players.
A year ago at the Rolex Regional Indoor Championships, then sophomore Ivy Wang reached the championship of the 96-player women's singles competition, thus qualifying her for the national indoor championships. Wang finished the 1996-'97 season with a solid 14-9 dual record.
The doubles tandem of Hricko and Majmudar also battled their way to the semifinal round of the indoor championships and finished the season with an impressive 12-5 dual record which included a 5-0 mark in Ivy League competition.
The outlook for the 1997-'98 season again looks promising. With everyone returning except for Majmudar, the Crimson should be tops in the Ivies and also make a strong run in the Eastern Regionals.
With the fall season upon the young squad which possesses only two seniors in Hricko and Julia Kim, the quest for regional victory begins on September 26 at the Vanderbilt Tournament.