For most Harvard students, the end of final exams will mark the beginning of rest and relaxation. But for three members of the Harvard men's tennis team, it will only mark the beginning of a rigorous road that they hope will eventually lead to sports on the 1984 U.S. Olympic tennis team.
Competition for the four open spots on the U.S. team should be fierce. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) invited 128 of the nation's top amateurs, and professionals under 21, to participate in a qualifying tournament at Flushing Meadows, N.Y., May 28 to June 2. Sixteen of the 128 players will then square off in a tourney with 16 seeded players.
In short, the 128 unseeded players shouldn't buy mom and dad those plane tickets to L.A. Not yet, at least.
But the chance--though slim--to represent the country in the most prestigious international sporting event in the world is undoubtedly a great attraction.
"There's no greater thrill than to be representing the United States to the rest of the world," said freshman Bill Stanley, who along with classmate Darryl Laddin and sophomore Larry Scott are among the 128 invited to the Olympic trials next month.
"Even if I don't make it, it'll be a great experience." said Laddin. "It's not something you can always do again."
Laddin, who has far less experience in international competition than either Stanley or Scott, added that he's longshot to make the team.
"The dock is really stacked against everyone," commented Harvard Coach Dave Flsh, noting the large field and quality of hand-picked seeded players.
Asked about who the pre-tournament favorites might be, Laddin suggested "most of the players on the Stanford or USC teams."
But Scott sees the competition in a different perspective. Because of the tournament structure and the single elimination process, said Scott, "every opponent is a potential threat."
"There will be so many good players that it'll be more of a mental battle than a physical one," added Scott, a big right hander with a powerful serve.
Part of the mental battle for Scott and others will be to sustain a high level of performance at both the Olympic tryouts and the NCAA Championships, in which all three are currently playing.
"I usually try to peak during tournaments and with the close scheduling. it'll be tough to do," said Scott.
Another distraction, according to Laddin, are final exams.
"I'm trying to practice as much as I can for the trials, but having finals right before makes it a little more difficult," Laddin said.