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Nostradamus made a few prescient calls, but even he failed to "see" everything. The Harvard men's tennis team, coming off a spectacular 1990 spring season, which saw it finish with a national ranking of 13, now has to live up to preseason prognostications.
In recognition of last year's performance and aware that the Crimson only lost one top player, Mark Leschly, to graduation, the pundits have ranked Harvard 14th nationally in their preseason poll.
The Crimson gets its first chance to prove its high ranking today, opening its fall season with the Harvard Invitational at Beren Tennis Center. Testing the Crimson will be Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Furman.
"Minnesota is customarily a top-20 team, and they received votes once again this year," Harvard Coach Dave Fish noted. "Furman continues to develop terrific teams, and Vanderbilt should round out the field nicely."
In Harvard's only home competition in the fall, number-11 Mike Shyjan will lead the Crimson in singles and doubles. In the doubles matches, though, the junior will play with Derek Brown and not his usual partner, Mike Zimmerman, with whom he is ranked fifth nationally. Zimmerman, recovering from a slight injury, will play number-two singles for the Crimson but will forego any doubles action.
Fish, well aware of his team's potential, felt there are both positives and negatives to the early expectations. "I think the guys can do well, and I like this tournament especially because nobody will have any preconceptions. They will just have to go on the court cold and play. I think it would be a good idea to get internally motivated, and the new opponents will give them a chance to do just that."
Having already qualified for the National Indoor Team Championships on the basis of their high ranking, the Harvard players are still anticipating a good tournament. "This is a good test for us," Shyjan said.
And number-three John Tolmie echoed that thought. "It is our only home event of the fall, and it should be a good warmup for ECAC's next weekend" where Harvard faces West Virginia and Princeton, two other to regional powers.
NOTEBOOK: The Invitational starts this morning at 9 a.m. and climaxes with the finals Sunday morning. In the case of rain, matches will be played in the Palmer Dixon Tennis Courts.
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