After a particularly frustrating point during his three-set loss to Harvard's Scott Walker yesterday at Palmer-Dixon, Brown's Phil Diaz yelled a self-deprecating "Turkey" at the top of his lungs. By the end of the match Diaz and his Bruin teammates were stuffed as big as a Thanksgiving capon by the Crimson who trounced them, 8-1.
Walker, playing at number two, led the Crimson romp in the singles with his three-set triumph over Diaz. He took the first set easily 6-2, before Diaz, a strong baseline player with a fine passing shot although no net game, struggled to get back in the match.
The seesaw second set wound its way to 4-4 at the end of a tie-breaker before Walker netted a backhand slice to tie the match at one set apiece. Walker next dropped to 1-4 in the final set, helping Diaz by serving several double-faults. Then Walker got serious.
Clenching his first and muttering and screaming instructions to himself after every point. Walker refused to lose another game. When Walker ran to the net to hit the final volley that clinched the set he had captured his fifth straight game and the match.
The Crimson's five other singles players also won their matches although both Andy Chaikovsky at number one and Greg Kirsch, at three, needed three sets to do it.
Freshman John Bridgeland played impressively at number five in his first league match, stunning John Ferguson, 6-1, 6-2. Bridgeland served hard, standing on tiptoes to hit the ball and get as much height as possible out of his short frame. He also banged solid ground strokes and an occasional exceptional passing shot.
Bridgeland will move down one notch to play six today against Yale after Don Pompan steps back into his regular top spot. Bridgeland will displace skipper Kevin Shaw, who outplayed Brad Robinson in straight sets yesterday but has had some trouble with his ground strokes in other recent matches.
Coach Dave Fish made the decision to move Bridgeland into the lineup for the Crimson's biggest match of the season in light of Bridgeland's strong play in California, his continued improvement since the fall, and in part to let Shaw concentrate exclusively on his match with Scott Walker at number two doubles. For Shaw, it will be the first time he has not played on the Crimson varsity since entering as a freshman.
The match with Yale today should be close. Yale beat Navy, 6-3 and Virginia, 7-2, opponents that the Crimson lost to, 4-5 and beat, 5-4. However, the Elis played those matches at home, while Harvard played the Midshipmen away and Virginia on Yale's courts.
Pompan may play any of three Elis who have battled at number one in different matches throughout the year. He might play schizophrenic Cary Leeds, a giant killer in the best of form, and a victim of dwarfs in the worst. He must also play Billy Brady, another incinsistent netman. Californian John Stiepel has also volleyed at number one for Yale, but will probably play down the order since Pompan seems to have his number. In more than six previous meetings, Pompan beat Stiepel, almost always in tight three set matches.
Chaikovsky and Walker will have tremendous battles at two and three with whichever of the three Yale big guns who don't play in the top spot.
Kirsch will face big, bad Brad Dressler, the Yale captain, a man with a powerful serve, strong forehand and tough service return. Bob Horne lines up against Tom Cimcik, the Eli's number five. Cimcik, a classy player, has a history of breezing past easy opponents, but losing tough matches.
In the end, the battle with the Bulldogs will almost certainly come down to the doubles. It would be fitting if captain Shaw, despite not playing singles, were the hero in his last Yale match. By about 7:00 p.m. tonight the match result should be in.