Still smarting from its 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Harvard women's squash team a week ago in New Haven, a fired-up Princeton squad came to Hemenway Gym Saturday thirsting for revenge and got it with a narrow 4-3 upset victory over the Crimson.
The racquetwomen's loss puts a significant damper on their first national title, which they won 10 days ago in the finals of the Howe Cup by whipping the Tigers, a team that had not been beaten since February of 1977.
The expectations on both sides for Saturday's match were that Harvard would reaffirm the dominance it exhibited in the Howe Cup. Betty Constable, Princeton's 11th-year coach and a former national champ, told her team before taking the courts that "if we pull this one out, it will be a miracle."
The Tigers got their miracle by catching the complacent racquetwomen by surprise early in the match. Without the pressure of having a five-year winning streak on the line, Princeton took the offensive by sweeping the opening matches from the Crimson, besting Diana Staley, Lisa Harrison and captain Courtney Stimpson.
Down 3-0 and their backs against the wall, the racquetwomen responded well to the pressure by staging a near comeback.
Lili Pew, the only Harvard player to lose in last weekend's match with the Tigers, quickly disposed of Margie Cist at number seven. "I was ready this time," Pew said, walking off the court with a 15-6, 15-7, 15-12 victory which consumed less than 20 minutes.
Crimson stalwarts Jackie Corrigan and Laura Kaye treated their opponents in similar fashion, scoring four-game wins at numbers three and five, respectively.
The deciding match came in a battle between Harvard's and Princeton's best. Mary Hulbert and Patrice McConnell. In a close contest, McConnell turned around her four-game loss to Hulbert in the Howe Cup with a four-game win this Saturday, giving the Tigers the necessary margin for victory.
Both McConnell and Princeton's number-two player, Joanna Sherry, adopted the unusual policy of frequently calling let points, many of them questionable and all of them slowing the tempo of the game.
The strategy seemed to work in upsetting both of Harvard's freshmen. Hulbert and number two Staley "Her calling let points rattled me very much I let it get to me." Hulbert said after her match with McConnell.
Meanwhile, a flustered Staley left the court area immediately following her straight-set loss, not even awaiting the results from her teammates' matches.
In the other early contests Lisa Harrison and Stimpson both went down to defeat in four games. Against Princeton's Denise Galambos. Harrison won the first game in a tiebreaker but then faltered in the second to allow Galambos to even the score.
In the pivotal third game, Harrison blew a 14-12 lead before losing in another tie-breaker. 17-15. Galambos iced the match with a 15-8 decision in the final game.