Last year, the Harvard men's tennis season ended shortly after it began.
Harvard dropped an 8-1 decision to Columbia last April, its worst Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association (EITA) loss since 1979. The winner of the Harvard-Columbia match has won the EITA title the last seven years.
Yesterday, the Crimson once again opened its EITA season with a loss, dropping a 6-3 heartbreaker to the Lions at Columbia Tennis Center. Over the past three seasons, Columbia has won 24 of 25 home matches, the only loss coming against Harvard.
Columbia is also the only Ivy League school with clay courts.
"The clay courts had a big impact," said Harvard Coach Dave Fish. "It's just a different game.
"We were close," Fish added "but we weren't sharp enough to beat them. It was a tough one to lose. I couldn't have been more pleased by the way the guys competed."
At number-two singles, Harvard's Mark Leschly dropped a 6-2, 6-4 decision to Jeff Chiang, while teammate Rob Soni fell, 6-3, 6-4 to Columbia's Hari Aiyar.
Meanwhile Crimson freshman Jon Cardi, sophomore Roger Berry and Co-Captain Arkie Engle fell in straight sets.
Cardi dropped a 6-3, 6-3 decision to Tom Delmon and Engle lost a close 7-6, 6-4 match.
Harvard's two singles victories came at number-five and six. Roger Berry captured a 6-3, 6-4 victory, while Ravi Kumar recorded a three set triumph over Jim Barkley.
After dropping the first set, 7-5, Kumar rallied to win the second set with a 6-4 victory. Kumar and Barkley traded service-breaks before Kumar sealed the match at 6-4.
Kumar's come from behind closed the netmen's deficit at 4-2 in overall games.
After the singles matches, the Crimson knew it had to win all three doubles matches to defeat the Lions.
Harvard started off well when Engle and Leschly cruised to a 6-2 victory in the first set. The duo destroyed Tom Givone and Lee Feldman, 6-0, to pull the Crimson within one match.
At number-two doubles, Cardi and Berry dropped the first set, 6-3, but rebounded to win the second, 7-6, In the third and final set, the Crimson duo dropped a tough 6-3 decision.
Like their number-two doubles teammates, Kumar and Soni dropped the first set, 6-2, but rebounded to capture the second set, 7-5. However, the Crimson duo dropped a 6-4 decision.
THE NOTEBOOK: Harvard now leads the series at 42-8.