"We're hot," said tennis coach Jack Barnaby at the start of the season; "we're hot," he reiterated last night. And he may be right. His charges have shattered the prognostications of all pre-season deposters, battering Navy, Army, Bowdoin, Wosleyan, and Amherst by substantial scores. They have sluffed off the stigma of last year's flasco season which found them bouncing around in the league cellar, unimpressive and untouted, and have forced Hub scribes to re-upholster their stock of Crimson tennis epithets with rubrics of enthusiasm and praise.
Strategic Retreat North
Davidson and North Carolina pounded the Varsity on its swing through the south, 6 to 3 and 9 to 0 respectively, but the Crimson bounced back on the last leg of its tour for an 8 to 1 show at Annapolis and a 7 to 2 victory at West Point. Their doubles improved as they retreated north. The two southern colleges, nonleague, were polished and whittled by weeks of practice, while the Varsity had had only one outdoor session, and it took a couple of rounds for the Crimson combos to shift gears. They are in high now, however, according to Barnaby, and threaten their future opponents with both pair and single power.
Barnaby weeded and seeded for this spring's harvest last spring and this fall. Now, on the University's newly constructed Soldiers Field courts, his tending is bearing fruit. Vince Brandt, Ted Backe, Bill Wightman, Steve Pratt, Bud Ager, and Ted Bullard are the core of his growing attack, with Pratt still progressing.
Pratt Proves Himself
Pratt worked his way up to a varsity racquet in fall tennis, and proved himself in the inconclusive Williams match which was shut-out by darkness at 4 to 3 for Williams. He took five games straight in the third set of his singles flurry, losing only one point during the stint, to twist a 5 to 2 lead against him into a victory and thus force the match to a draw.
Withtman teams with Pratt, steadying the latter's flery game with his varied, cool attack. Brandt and Backe are the number one combo; Brandt hits, Backe saves the tough ones. The third duo of Ager and Bullard can dish up most any kind of shot from any position. Ager, once a baseliner, has surprised himself lately with net-work that he didn't know he had until Barnaby cajoled him into it. Bullard ties the climax shots onto Ager's game, and has lately been rounding out his play-which was formerly over-specialized.
Fifty New Courts
The Crimson has much tough cat gut to out-batter during the next three weeks. No one is particularly worried about Brown this afternoon, but Cornell this Saturday poses a bigger problem. The veteran-studded Cayugans boast national reputations in their top men and have depth and prowess in their reserves. Along with Yale and Princeton who usher out the season in the middle of May, they will have history and the guesses of ouija specialists on their side when they cock their racquets for the Crimson, and it is difficult to tell whether the team's and Barnaby's optimism includes victories over these three teams, or whether they only seek a moral victory for the underdog Crimson.
Fifty new tennis courts which were launched by the recent April showers have proved a double boon to the Crimson in its fight for a rebound season. They have a hard, fast-drying surface which snubs rain, and storms have only kept the team indoors for the day of the weather onslaught itself. In the past, precious practices had to be cancelled for days after a shower. Also, they have given Barnaby a chance to work up a ten-man squad for the Yale match on good courts. Charlie Ames, Loring Briggs, Hilliard Hughes, Howie Swartzman, and Jack Frey are at present pounding the extra surfaces with an eye for the Eli fray.