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Netmen Whitewash Tigers In EITA Championship

By Christopher Sanzone

For senior Captain Mark Leschly, yesterday's demolition of a formidable Princeton squad at Beren Tennis Center was only fitting.

Harvard (22-5 overall, 10-0 EITA) clinched the EITA title with Leschly's exciting two-set victory at number-one singles over Greg Hartch, 6-3, 7-5.

"I'm from Princeton, and I almost went there," Leschly said. "It was our last home match, senior year...it seemed appropriate."

Appropriate and clutch. Harvard's 6-0 sweep of singles against the Tigers gives the 13th-ranked Crimson an excellent shot at snaring an at-large bid tomorrow for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Harvard's hopes for an Eastern Regional bid in the tourney were dashed last week when the team lost, 6-3, to streaking West Virginia, which had just come off an upset of sixth-ranked Miami. Crimson Coach Dave Fish is optimistic, however, that his team will receive the bid on Thursday.

"We played really good tennis today," Fish said. "We could be the first Eastern team to ever receive an at-large bid."

Against Princeton, the Crimson proved that it is worthy of NCAA postseason play. Sophomore Mike Zimmerman started things off in fine fashion by shellacking Andy Weiss, 6-1, 6-1. Zimmerman's match was the only one completed outside, as a slight drizzle forced the two teams to move the action indoors.

The transition inside seemed to give Leschly just the break in play that he needed. Hartch, ranked 40th in the nation and winner of the Princeton Invitational, stormed to a quick 3-0 lead outdoors in the second set. Once inside, though, Leschly took control.

Both players held serve, and at 1-4 Leschly broke Hartch. Pumping his fists and spurring himself on, the senior continued to pressure the bewildered Hartch until he gained a 5-4 lead in the set. Serving for the win, Leschly was thwarted at deuce after a long rally to bring the score to 5-5.

"I was starting to cramp up, and I couldn't move that well," Leschly said. "I had a hard time playing the long points."

Leschly fought back in another closely contested game, breaking Hartch, and then closed out the match by holding his serve. Hartch's forehand return was long, and Harvard had the win.

"I've been playing well. My last four matches have been at number-one singles," Leschly said. "I figured that if I stuck to my game, I could win. It was a good match. At the end, I just had that extra little burst."

Leschly's teammates also had plenty of burst.Junior Jon Cardi and sophomores Derek Brown andJohn Tolmie all convincingly defeated theirun-Tiger-like opponents in straight sets. Tolmiefollowed Zimmerman, needing only two points insideto conclude his match, while Brown did not let hisfeisty opponent win a game in the second set.Albert Chang made it a clean sweep with a comefrom behind three-set victory at number-sixsingles.

For Fish, his team's response after the toughloss to West Virginia was very satisfying.

"The guys remember the [West Virginia] loss,and I think they learned a lot," Fish said. "Itmay have been a blessing in disguise because somepeople are forced to play higher up, and theylearn how good they can be. I was very pleasedwith the team's attitude. It's something we'vetalked about. It was a whole team effort."

All that is left for the Crimson now is to sitand wait until tomorrow. The EITA champs are notquite yet ready to rest on their laurels and callit a season.

"I really, really want to go to the nationals,"Leschly said. "It would be great to get that bid."CrimsonDebra A. SchaferMIKE ZIMMERMAN (left) goes throughformalities after his match with Princeton's ANDYWEISS yesterday. The match itself was also a mereformality for Zimmerman, who demolished Weiss,6-1, 6-1.

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