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Injuries, academic conflicts, and the common cold combined forces against Harvard yesterday to help a fired-up B.U. team serve the women's tennis team its first defeat of the season, 8-1.
With the Crimson's top five players out, three freshmen found themselves playing the first three singles matches in front of a sparse crowd at the Palmer-Dixon courts. Each match was a hard-fought three-setter, but in the end the results were all the same, and all bad.
The Harvard netwomen had previously defeated all but one of the top six B.U. players in the finals of the Greater Boston tournament this past weekend, but at that time, the Crimson had three of its top five players in action.
In the top slot yesterday, Debbie Kaufman lost to Johanna Sleeper 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. At second singles, Yardling Tracy Kunichika fell to Lesley Sheehan, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6; and in the third spot, Harvard's Deanne Loonin took the first set 6-1, but dropped the next two, 6-1, 6-3 to B.U.'s hard-hitting Bridgett Hiller.
The second match was an especially exciting see-saw battle. Kunichika fell behind 5-3 in the final set, but she seemed to gain confidence, and rallied to go ahead 6-5. After the match went to 6-all, the tenacious freshman finally gave in, losing the tie-breaker, 7-4.
Things began to look even more bleak after the next two singles matches. Kristen Mertz dropped a 6-1, 6-0 decision to Sharon Hurrell, and freshman Nina VanDyke lost to Jamie Beere, 6-4, 6-4.
By this time, the match was in effect over, but it was up to sixth singles player Liz Siegel to save face for the beleaguered Crimson team. After taking the first set from Lisa Darland, 6-3, Siegel lost the second 6-4 and fell behind in the last one 4-0. Gathering up determination, though, she reeled off six straight games to give the women their only victory of the day.
The doubles matches were also academic, but this time, the racquet-women failed to win one. With two of its doubles pairs never having played together before, Harvard could not take a set from their more experienced opponents.
Neither the Crimson players nor their coach, Don Usher, appeared to be very upset at the results of the day's match. "We obviously did not field our best team," Usher said yesterday, adding, "If we had lost 8-1 with those five players, it would be a different story."
Usher and most of his players viewed the match as a learning experience. First singles player Kaufman called her match a good experience. "Now I know some things to focus on in practise, and I think I'll be more prepared the next time I'm in this position," she said yesterday.
"We knew that B.U. was going to be our toughest match all fall. Even though our players didn't win, they responded to the challenge and played well against experienced competition," Usher said. He added, "The team as a whole should end up benefitting from this match."
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