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CHESTNUT HILL--Taking advantage of a depleted Crimson lineup, the Boston College women's tennis team crushed Harvard, 7-2, yesterday at the Eagle Tennis Complex.
Harvard Coach Ed Krass didn't hesitate to point out why Harvard (2-0 Ivy, 6-5 overall) dropped its first match to B.C. in a decade. All he had to do was notice the two missing spaces on the bench usually reserved for top-seeded Cristina Dragomirescu and fifth-singles Co-Captain Nicole Rival.
"If you lose one player, you lose two points of the game," Krass said. "Needing five points to win, one player can cost you 40 percent of the match."
"And then, you have to scramble to find depth," Krass added. "Psychologically, there's a lack of the comfort factor, when you're using certain players that haven't been to the well in terms of competition."
Dragomirescu or not, the Eagles (11-13 overall) overpowered a Harvard squad which lacked the gangbuster intensity that pulverized ninth-ranked Pepperdine in late March.
Amy deLone arguably fought the sharpest battle but came up short in her three-set struggle against the Jennifer "No Pain" Lane, the fourth-ranked player in the East.
The Eagles' Pam Piorkowski--the region's fifth-ranked player--then downed a torrid Jamie Henikoff in an atypical 6-2, 6-4 victory in second singles.
"I just didn't play well," Henikoff said.
Boston College's Michelle Chua followed in third singles, bouncing Jen Minkus in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4.
With B.C. leading 3-0, Eagle Kate Sullivan widened the gap in a straight-set defeat of freshman Melinda Wang.
"Katie has been playing out of her mind," B.C. Coach Mark Burns said.
Freshman Erika Elmuts momentarily rescued the Crimson--one match away from burial at this juncture--as she ravaged Regina Fagan in straight sets.
Tricia Small kept Harvard alive in a three-set drubbing of Angie Gabbatt. After dropping the first set by a 7-6 count, Small rebounded to impale Gabbatt--surrendering just one game to the Eagle in the final two sets.
Eagles' Chua and Sullivan shot past the doubles tandem of Minkus and Elmuts, 6-2, 6-3, in second doubles.
B.C.'s Fagan and Gabbatt then defeated Small and Wang in straight sets.
"We had already clinched the match by this point," Gabbatt said. "Not that's any reason for [Small and Wang] to have given up. We were really psyched to play."
First doubles competition yielded a showdown for an NCAA Eastern Regional berth between the Harvard demolition duo of Henikoff and deLone, and the Eagles' Lane and Piorkowski.
"[deLone and Henikoff] are hungry. This will be a big match for the NCAA berth," Krass commented prior to the contest.
But Lane and Piorkowski outplayed the Crimson's terminating tandem in straight sets by a 6-3, 6-1 count.
The Eagle pair aggressively charged the net and pounded the yellow globe to master the match.
"We tried to approach a lot and smash the ball down the middle to get them out of the groove," Piorkowski said. "And, I think Amy [deLone] was tired from the three-set match with Jen [Lane]."
The win for the B.C. duo virtually insures a trip to the NCAA championships in Gainesville, Fla., next month.
THE NOTEBOOK: Harvard will defend its eight-year stranglehold on the Ivy League title as it hosts Ivy Co-champion Yale Friday at 2 p.m. and Brown Saturday at noon. President Derek C. Bok is expected to attend both matches.
Friday at 2 p.m., the Yale women's tennis team invades Bern Tennis Center for a showdown between last year's Ivy co-champs. Last year, the Elis upset the Crimson, 5-4, to snap Harvard's 45-game Ivy winning steak, dating back from the 1982-83 season.
Yale is led by Lynn Rosenstrach, who is ranked in the Eastern Regional top 10. In 1988, Harvard mauled Yale, 7-2.
Saturday at noon, Brown will play the Crimson in another key Ivy League matchup. Despite dropping a 6-3 decision to Harvard last year, the Bruins figure to make a serious bid at the Ivy title this season.
Anna Sloan, the nation's 29th-ranked player, and Anne Fitzpatrick, the nation's 37th-ranked player, anchor the Bruin squad. In 1988, Harvard thrashed Brown, 7-2.
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