The Crimson squash team's unbeaten string went the way of the Walton gang on Saturday as the racquetmen fell to an experienced Princeton squad, 5-4.
Heartbreaking five-game losses by Peter Blasier at number two and Dick Cashin at number three were crucial in ending the Crimson's 49-match skein. Princeton number two man Arif Sarfraz forced Blasier to lose his composure and held on to win, 15-11, 12-15, 15-8, 10-15, 15-11.
Down two games to none in his match, Cashin began to unleash his overpowering stroke and came back to win the next two games by identical 15-4 scores. His loss in the fifth game gave Princeton the fifth match point it needed for victory.
The Tigers' experience in match play proved decisive. Almost every Princeton player was a veteran of national tournaments. Only those Harvard players with equal experience fared well in the match.
Coach Jack Barnaby said yesterday, "They had a lot more talent on paper. If this match had been played in November, we would have lost, 7-2."
"We've made a lot of progress since then; I was disappointed that we didn't make quite enough," he added.
Princeton Too Good
Barnaby said that he was impressed with Princeton's strength. "We didn't hand them this math; we played well, but they were just too good," he said.
Barnaby singled out Steve Mead, who played number nine, as Harvard's top performer. Mead came back from a 7-11 deficit in the fifth game of his match to win, 15-11, 15-6, 8-15, 12-15, 16-13.
Captain Glen Whitman, playing number one, also stood out. Using his wide array of shots, Whitman established himself as one of the nation's top intercollegiate players by handling Princeton's highly touted John Bottger in straight games, 15-9, 15-14, 15-9.
Fred Fisher put his match-play experience to good use as he won a crucial match at number seven, 15-10, 15-12, 15-11. The match score stood at 4-2 in favor of Princeton while Fisher played, and his victory kept Harvard in contention.
Senior Arch Gwathmey, another experienced player, gave the Crimson its fourth victory at number four, 14-15, 15-10, 15-7, 15-13.
Inexperience took its toll at numbers six and eight, where Bill Kaplan and Jim McDonald lost in straight games. Kaplan is a freshman, while McDonald has only been playing for three years.
Number five man Jeff Weigand ran out of gas in his match and fell in four games, 15-13, 15-8, 10-15, 15-2.
Harvard's loss was only its third to Princeton since World War II. Princeton's last victory over the Crimson came in 1965, breaking a 47-match Harvard unbeaten string. Harvard's current string stretched back to 1969, when Penn won the intercollegiate championship.
Harvard still has a slight hope of winning the championship this year. Princeton plays Penn in Philadelphia on Wednesday; a Quaker victory coupled with a Crimson win over the Quakers later this month would give Harvard a good shot for the title.