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It will all happen in less than 80 hours. Due to a strange twist in this year's Ivy League tennis schedule, the Harvard men's team will make or break its 1977 season this weekend with three crucial matches in the concrete-and-corrugated metal cavern known as the Palmer Dixon Courts.
The fireworks begin at 3 p.m. today when the powerful Columbia Lions stalk into town. Penn. scheduled for Saturday, makes up the meat of the sandwich of matches, and a strong Yale squad finishes up the whirlwind slate with a challenge Monday.
The Lions and Eli are among the strongest teams in the East, and the Crimson must win all three matches to have any solid shot at league titles favorite Princeton.
In the words of junior number two layer Todd Lundy, "It's not going to be a very easy weekend."
Columbia is led by freshman Eric Formm, reputed to be the best racquetman at that school since the halcyon days of current pro Henry Bunis (brother of Harvard's Al) and Vitas Gerulaitis. With losses to Princeton and Navy, Columbia has little chance to win the league crown, but it could play the spoiler role against the Crimson, as it did last year.
Penn should be the least tough opponent, but the Yale match hits Harvard Monday like the third volley in a blast of machine-gun fire. The Elis have also lost twice, to Princeton and--ye--Columbia, but they are strong. Number one Cary Leeds is a potential all-American, and the team has improved so much that last year's number two player has slipped to the six the position.
Harvard's line-up sports a few standouts of its own, though. While the squad is riddled with minor injuries--Al Bunis, Scott Walker and Cliffe Adler, most notably--it remains powerful.
Captain Dan Waldman, touted as a possible all-American after his March victory in the Princeton Invitational, leads the Crimson at number one. Cool, methodical and deadly Todd Lundy returns to the two spot for the third straight year. Lundy does not lose often.
Walker at three, freshman Dan Gerken at four, Kevin Shaw at five and Bunis at six are all of similar caliber--good. The doubles combinations--Lundy and Waldman at one. Walker and Shaw at two, and Adler and Gerken at three--appear solid on paper, though they remain untested in league competition.
But the whole team will be tested quickly, and harshly, in this, the longest weekend of the Harvard tennis team's schedule. The team's mood is optimistic, yet apprehensive.
"We're going to need nine good matches to win tomorrow," Lundy said yesterday. And then 18 more after that, if the racquetmen are to stand up to their stiffest challenge of the year.
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