NEW HAVEN, CONN.--This town never looked so good to the Harvard men's squash team as it did this weekend after it captured the National Intercollegiate Squash Racquet Association Six Man Team Championship.
The Crimson squad returned home after a performance Coach Dave Fish termed "the greatest comeback ever in the history of Harvard squash," boasting two individual titles--in the "C" and "B" divisions respectively--copped by Captain Clark Bain and Geordie Lemmon.
At the end of the first day of the competition, the Crimson stood in third place behind heavily favored Princeton and Yale, but only one Crimson competitor. "A" division player Mitch Reese, had been eliminated. All the remaining racquetmen advanced to the quarter-finals.
On Saturday everything came together, and the Crimson touch was magic. Bain, Lemmon and Brad Desaulniers, in "A" division, beat their opponents to advance to the semi-finals. Chip Robie, playing on a swollen ankle, and Charlie Duffy both dropped close four-game matches and entered consolations. The Crimson stood within a point of Princeton, going into Saturday afternoon's semi-finals.
There was no room for error, with two of the three semi-final matches seeing head-to-head confrontations between Harvard and Princeton players. Bain easily dispatched Princeton's John Barrett, 3-0, while Lemmon polished off Tiger Chris Sherry 3-1.
Desaulniers also advanced to finals after beating Western Ontario challenger Alan Grant 3-2 in the semis.
This year, for the first time, a new point system was introduced that allowed consolation players to score points. Also, for the first time, players losing as late as the quarter-finals were "fed-in" to the consolations. This technicality proved critical for the Harvard squad.
Critical because on the same day Reese--in a marathon performance--went four outstanding matches in consolation play. Highlights included Reese's defeat of Yale's David Barrett, followed by his defeat of Penn's number-one player. Brian Roberts. an exhausted Reese bowed to Tufts' Willard Bigelow in his final match.
Entering the final day of competition, the Crimson held a tenuous lead. More importantly, though, the Crimson had something to prove. Princeton had been the only team to defeat Harvard this season in dual meet competition. Now, on neutral turf, the Crimson sensed revenge.
Bain, playing with a pulled muscle, entered the finals against Western Ontario's Dennis Hissey, the number-one seeded player with a 15-1 game record for the tournament. After a see-saw battle the competitors went the distance. In the fifth game, Bain dropped behind, 3-7, before fighting back to win the final match of his intercollegiate career with a perfect three wall rolling shot.
Lemmon, following Bain's lead, turned in a truly awesome performance against Tiger opponent Steve Loughran, in the tournament's greatest upset. Calm and collected playing paid off for Lemmon, as he beat the favored Loughran 3-1.
In the tournament's premier event, Desaulniers met Princeton's John Nimmick. Nimmick had triumphed in the previous match-ups, and this tournament was no different.
Throughout the first two games, Desaulniers' inexperience took its toll, as the seasoned Nimmick won handily. The third game, however, saw Desaulniers bounce back with previously absent dazzling shots and agility to take the game in professional style. Yet Nimmick copped the fourth game and the intercollegiate title by winning a 17-17 tiebreaker.
Ecstatic assistant coach Mark Panarese, summing up the feelings of his squad that captured Harvard's first tournament since 1975 said "I can't believe it. I can't believe it."
THE NOTEBOOK: Brad Desaulniers and Mitch Reese were selected to the All-American Squad for their outstanding performances this season. In addition, each copped positions on the All Tournament team for their stellar seekend outing.