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Lissa Muscatine

Sports Profile


Age: 20

Home: Berkeley, Calif.

Concentration: History

Background: Junior Lissa Muscatine has been the captain of the Radcliffe tennis team for the past two years. Last year she led the squad to an undefeated season and this spring she is playing the number one seed. Muscatine, a member of the Faculty Standing Committee on Athletics, also starred on the 'Cliffe basketball team last winter.

Profile: Lissa Muscatine is one of Radcliffe's new breed of athletes. Ever since Congress approved "Title IX" which required universities to provide equal athletic opportunities and equal access to athletic facilities for men and women 'Cliffe sports--with Muscatine in the forefront--have been on the upswing.

"I'm not like Roanne Costin or Connie Cervilla [who started the fight for equal athletic opportunities and access at Harvard]," Muscatine said, "because when I go and talk to [Director of Athletics] Robert Watson, he has to listen to me. It's not like before, when Radcliffe athletes weren't listened to and were degraded by Harvard."

But as welcome as the change was, Muscatine thinks it might have caught the Radcliffe athletic department off guard. "I think the Radcliffe athletic department isn't really ready for varsity sports. We need full-time coaches, ones that demand that all the members of a team come to practice, and not ones that don't come to practice themselves if they can't get a baby sitter. Radcliffe athletes are serious people, and that is just beginning to be recognized."

Lissa Muscatine grew up as a tomboy. While she was an elementary school kickball captain and a backyard basketball and touch football star, she did not play any varsity sport in junior high or high school. In fact, before she emerged as one of the leaders of the 'Cliffe hoop squad last winter, she had not played organized basketball at any level. "I didn't play basketball in school," Muscatine said, "because I was trying to get out of my tomboy image. Instead I skied or played tennis, as that was more accepted."

"I play basketball here because I'm not impeded by the stigma any longer. Besides, it's a change of pace. If you play one sport all year round, it needs some refreshing," Muscatine said.

Although she is about the best tennis player at Radcliffe, Muscatine only started playing tennis when she was 16 and competed just once in a tournament (losing 6-2, 6-2 in the first round) before she enrolled here.

"I didn't start playing tennis until I was a junior in high school. My boyfriend was really good at it and I picked the sport up from him. I didn't play any girls before I got here except for one tournament the summer before my freshman year," Muscatine said.

So far this season, Muscatine has won only two of the eight matches she has played. "The number one isn't going to do that well for us this year, but the two, three, and four players are going to do very well," she said.

A number of New England colleges have an excellent top seed but the talent diminishes rapidly from there. Remembering that the top three players for the 'Cliffe are just about the same in ability, I asked Lissa if she would rather play two or three for a while to give her a chance to break out of her slump. "No, I like to play number one," she said emphatically. "I want to be the underdog. I like to play good people because if someone patsy-balls around, then my game will fall apart also."

This competitiveness has brought Muscatine to the number one position and her role as captain of probably the best women's tennis team in New England after having played the sport for only four years. "Before I came to Radcliffe, my father told me all the girls playing tennis here would be country club girls and I wouldn't make the team," Muscatine said. "But I showed him."

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