Having virtually clinched a share of the EITA title with only two matches remaining in the season, Harvard's tennis team goes to M.I.T. this weekend to seek another title that has eluded it for four years--the New England championship.
Although admittedly the best squad in New England last year, the Crimson had trouble advancing competitors any further than the earliest playoff rounds, and although John Levin captured the individual singles crown, Harvard lost the team title by a single point to Amherst.
"It was frustrating." recalls Levin, "since so much depended on the luck of the draw. We had demolished Amherst 9-0 earlier in the season, but they advanced more players into subsequent rounds than we did, even though they had no one outstanding performer."
This year, the situation is much the same. The Crimson has trounced Amherst once again, 7-2, and is undefeated in New England competition. Levin, along with his last year's doubles partner, Rocky Jarvis, is back, and the two figure to be top contenders for the singles and doubles titles.
To complete the singles entry, coach Jack Barnaby is sending senior Terry Oxford and sophomore Bill Washauer, and will add sophomore Chris Nielsen to form a Washauer-Nielsen tandem in the doubles competition.
Amherst Defends Crown
Amherst's Rick Steketee, whom Levin defeated 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals last spring, will again be the major obstacle to Harvard's retention of the singles crown, and he will combine with sophomore Mike Pelletier to form the second-seeded doubles team.
The Levin-Jarvis entry, however, whipped the Amherst tandem in straight sets this spring, and must be rated the favorite. Harvard will enjoy an added advantage of playing on a familiar court surface. The bulk of the tournament is slated for M.I.T.'s clay courts, exactly similar to the Crimson's Soldiers' Field playing surfaces, and the overflow matches will be sent to Harvard.
"We've been the favorite in this tournament ever since I've been here," says Levin, "and we've never quite been able to win it. This year it will be different. We really want the team title."