The Harvard men's tennis team is lucky that the Palmer Dixon courts have a roof. The shelter from yesterday's rain allowed them to roll over, 9-0, the much-improved Bruins of Brown, giving the Crimson a great psychological boost for today's must-win match with Yale.
Those who braved the elements to watch the match were not exactly rewarded with suspenseful competition, as nearly all the matches could be described, as Captain Donald Pompan did, as "routine." Only two sets went to tiebreakers before the netmen clinched it.
The highlight of the day was the first singles, which pitted Harvard ace Howard Sands against his good friend and neighbor from Pacific Palisades, California, Bruin Scott Diehl. Sands utilized consistent play and good ground strokes to win the friendly grudge match 6-3, 6-4.
Pompan, playing in the number-two slot, provided some excitement for the crowd in his 6-1, 6-7, 6-0 defeat of Howard Schaff. Pompan noted that the scores indicated the tempos of the match. "I lost some intensity in the second set but fortunately gained it back to win. We play Yale tomorrow and I was thinking about that. Fortunately, today I played well when I had to."
Pompan is referring to the match with the Eli today at Palmer-Dixon that the Crimson, currently 5-0 in Ivy play, must win if they hope to have a shot at an NCAA berth. Yale's only loss this season came at the hands of Ivy favorite Princeton, another team Harvard must beat (May 6) if they hope to gain the post-season playoffs.
Adam Beren, the number-three singles for Harvard, demonstrated that the Crimson will be able to count on clutch play against the Eli, winning a 5-3 tiebreaker to pull out a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Darrel Lindsey. Service return was another key to Beren's triumph, as he managed to deal with Lindsey's serve, which Pompan described as being the "biggest" in Ivy tennis.
Three rapid-fire singles victories shattered any hopes that the Bruins might have had for rescuing the afternoon clinching the match for the Crimson. Mike Turner, picking a fortuitous moment in the season to peak, played his best tennis of the year, sitting down John Hare in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. Warren Grossman and Bob Horne also recorded straight set victories, dispatching Phil Diaz and John Hare, respectively.
The doubles matches, played after the victory was clinched, were about as interesting as the gray sky outside. Turner and Sands took Hare and Diehl, while Beren and Bob Wheeler edged Lindsey and Judge; Pompan and Grossman completed the trend of two-set victories by defeating Diaz and Schaff.
It is encouraging to note that today's romp was over a greatly improved Bruin squad that already has more victories this year than last season's total. The easy match didn't drain any of the emotional energy that will have to be summoned for today's Yale match. In the words of Pompan. "Today was encouraging to watch. We're all building up for Yale. We're building intensity."