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Harvard's varsity squash team humiliated Penn, the second-ranked squad in the country, 8-1 Saturday on the Hemenway courts. The lopsided victory left the Crimson only one match away from an undefeated season and another intercollegiate team championship.
The Penn match was expected to be the most competitive challenge of the year for the Crimson, and Harvard fans had packed the choicest seats at Hemenway three hours before the play began. Both Harvard and Penn had the same men at number five that clashed last year, so the match should have been the equivalent of the previous close struggles.
But one-half hour after the match began, the Crimson had won the first four matches, including three three-game sweeps. The only excitement that remained was whether Harvard could shutout the formidable Quakers.
Penn's only point came at number one where, after four games and 34 points of a fifth game. Palmer Page beat Peter Briggs on the last possible point.
Harvard will close its collegiate season on Tuesday at Yale. The Elis are not as strong as Penn, but Yale has upset Princeton this year.
After Saturday's crushing victory, however, Harvard ranks far above its nearest collegiate competitors. Besides the match at number one. Penn won only three games in the other eight matches.
Captain Dave Fish, number two, and junior Dan Gordon, number four, opened the rout on the main courts. Fish dropped his first game, 10-15, to freshman Joe Swain, but the Harvard senior showed no signs of a sore elbow as he roared back in three straight games, 15-6, 15-11, 15-11.
Gordon used his size advantage and harder shot to great advantage against Charlie Jacobs. After losing the first game. 15-11, the Penn senior started aiming for the top of the tin, and the odds ran against him. Gordon took two close victories. 16-14, 16-14, in the second and third games.
Upstairs in the lower brackets, Penn was battling to merely win a single game. Neil Vosters handed Dan Roblin his first loss of the year at number six, 15-9, 15-9, 15-11.
In the final match of the opening four clashes, senior Lowell Pratt completed the rout with a three-game sweep at number eight, 15-12, 15-9, 15-9.
The second round of matches followed the pattern of the first series. At number one, Page opened with a flurry of drop shots and winning placements, but Briggs quickly rebounded. With the crowd screaming after every point, Briggs trounced Page, 15-6, 15-6, in the first two games.
Page rallied in the third game, 8-15, to push the match past intermission, and he overcame a broken racquet to even the match in the fourth set, 15-11.
As the fifth game began, the scoreboard was completed and the crowd was flashing "0" signs. Junior Andy Weigand started slowly but eventually swept Penn's Denis Nayak, at three, 18-17, 15-6, 15-12.
Back upstairs, Harvard's sophomores had carried the momentum. Glen Whitman took a three-game sweep from Penn senior Dave Lott, 15-10, 15-9, 15-11. Archie Gwathmey also triumphed in four games. 15-12, 15-13, 8-15, 15-7.
With the crowd cheering for a team sweep, Briggs ran up a 5-0 lead in the fifth game with Page, but the Quaker rebounded with seven consecutive points. Briggs took the advantage at 13-11 and 3-1, 4-3 of the overtime. But Page came back to win on the last possible point.
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