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'If we played Harvard indoors, they would like us'. --Pacific Coach Bill Maze
If the Harvard women's tennis team's play over spring break last week in California is any indication of the Crimson's abilities, Harvard is on its way to a competitive season, one that could land it in the national rankings.
Although Harvard settled for a 2-2 split overall, the Crimson came a hairbreadth away from beating Houston, a team which was rated in the top 25 until last week.
Last Thursday's heartbreaking loss to the Cougars--which eluded Harvard, 5-4, in a last-gasp comeback--and two run-away wins over Fresno State and Cal-Poly Pomona should serve as a welcome boost to the Crimson's confidence heading into Ivy League action which begins this week.
Win Some, Lose Some
At the beginning of the California trip, it did not appear as though things would turn out so well for Harvard.
Playing on just one day of outdoor practice, Pacific downed Harvard, 6-3, on the team's first day of competition. After Jen Minkus won at number-five to give the Crimson a 1-0 lead, Harvard dropped three straight matches at number-four, number-three and number-one.
In the closest match of the day, the Crimson's 70th-ranked Amy deLone battled tooth-and-nail with Kim Chang, a Brigham Young University transfer, but fell to Chang in a third-set tie-breaker, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6).
Harvard's number-six, Erika Elmuts, won to make it 3-2, but Pacific prevailed at number-two to make it 4-2 after the singles mathces.
Second-doubles Melissa McNabb and Elmuts cut the lead to 4-3, but the Crimson then dropped first- and third-doubles, sealing Harvard's fate.
"If we played Harvard indoors, they would kill us," Pacific Coach Bill Maze said.
Harvard's play picked up as the week progressed. The Crimson over-powered Fresno State, 8-1, on Tuesday in San Diego. McNabb, Sam Ettus, Jamie Henikoff, deLone, Elmuts and Minkus made a clean sweep of singles. In the day's biggest comeback, Elmuts fought back from 5-1 in the third set to win 7-5.
Harvard's 24th-rated doubles pair of deLone and Henikoff and third-doubles Minkus and Ettus won to provide the final margin of victory:
After singles play against Houston two days later, it looked like the Crimson was going to score a major upset, leading 4-2. Henikoff beat the Cougar's Kristin Samuelson, 6-2, 6-1, to give the Crimson the early lead. After Houston's Catharine Bloomfield defeated Elmuts at number-six, deLone, Ettus and McNabb won to make it 4-1. Although Minkus lost a close three-set match, Harvard still needed just one match to beat the Cougars.
The win never came. Houston rebounded to win all three doubles matches and snatched a 5-4 victory.
The Crimson didn't jet back to Boston empty-handed, though. Harvard cruised to an 8-1 blowout of the second-ranked team in Division II tennis, Cal-Poly Pomona, on Friday.
Minkus suffered a quadriceps injury that forced her to retire the first match at number-five, but Harvard bounced back to win the remainder of the singles matches. DeLone, McNabb, Henikoff, Elmuts and Ettus clinched the win, 5-1.
DeLone and Henikoff, McNabb and Elmuts and Liza Parker and Rachel Pollock prevailed in doubles play to make it 8-1.
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