Having lost four of last year's top five players to graduation, the Crimson squash team will be hard-pressed this winter to keep alive its four-year undefeated skein.
Captain Glenn Whitman, who will play number one, is the only proven performer on this year's squad. Star-studded teams from Penn and Princeton will provide defending collegiate champion Harvard with its biggest tests, and Navy always has a strong squad.
"We've got some strong players coming up to fill the gaps on the varsity, but no ready-made stars," coach Jack Barnaby said yesterday. "We'll have to improve a lot by February to beat Penn and Princeton."
Whitman, who played number three last year, is on a par with the top college players in the country. Playing right behind him will be junior Peter Blasier, number six racquetman last year. "Peter's a very steady player, but he needs to develop some classy shots," Barnaby said.
Returness Archie Gwathmey and Dick Cashin hold down the third and fourth spots. Cashin, an extremely strong-stroking player, also rows for the heavyweight crew. The team's fifth returning letterman, Fred Fisher, will play at number seven.
The top three players on last year's freshman squad have all moved up to the varsity. Jeff Wiegand will play number five, Peter Havens six, and Cass Sunstein ten. However, Havens is still recovering from an achilles tendon injury and may miss several early season matches.
Freshman Bill Kaplan, who was Andover's top man last year, will play number six. Although freshmen have been eligible to play on the varsity level for three years now, Kaplan is the first ever to do so for Harvard.
"Except for really outstanding players, like Bill, I like to keep freshmen on the freshman squad to give them experience and to keep a spot open for some other boy on the varsity level," Barnaby said.
Jim McDonald at nine, Steve Mead at eleven and Tim Morgan at twelve round out the squad.
The racquetmen open their season Saturday against Cornell. The Crimson squad should win in a breeze against the perenially weak Redmen, and is concentrating on its match week from Saturday against Navy at Hemenway Gymnasium.
The Midshipmen have been practicing since early fall and should be in top physical form (Harvard began formal practices November 1). The Crimson will have the home court advantage against Navy, an advantage it will also have over Penn and Princeton in February.