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As a rule, collegiate coaches attempt to avoid confrontations whenever possible.
Brown women's tennis Coach Norma Taylor doesn't happen to be one of those coaches. She asked number-two Serena Wu to play an Ivy title-determining match against Harvard with a broken wrist last year. She asked Anna Sloan--a top-30 player last year--to play her first match of the season against the Crimson yesterday in spite of the fact that Sloan said she would not play tennis this term.
Even with Sloan, Brown could not overcome Harvard and fell to the Crimson, 5-4, yesterday in Providence, R.I.
Or did the Bruins lose? Taylor is currently protesting Harvard's win, and until the Ivy League makes its decision, the match will not count in either team's record.
"I know Norma is a fierce competitor," Harvard women's tennis Coach Gordon Graham said. "I always got along with her well when Brown played us when I was at Pacific, but because of this incident, there is going to be bad blood between our teams."
"If they win the protest, they could win the Ivies," Graham continued, "We know that we beat them, but even if we do come away with the win, it would be unfortunate that this happened, because it has created bad feelings."
Did Harvard Cheat?
Taylor's protest centers around Graham's last-minute insertion of number-seven Rachel Pollock into the lineup as a replacement for number-five Jen Minkus, who has a calf pull.
Because number-six Erika Elmuts already had started her match when Graham made the decision to rest Minkus, Pollock had to jump two positions to play at number-five. The rule states that once a player starts her match, she must play it out to the very end. Under normal circumstances, Elmuts would move up one position from number-six to number-five, and Pollock would move to number-six.
Taylor is accusing Graham of purposefully starting the Elmuts match, and then inserting Pollock in an effort to stack Harvard's lineup. Taylor's reasoning is that Graham substituted a weak player, Pollock, at number-five in an attempt to let Elmuts win at number-six, rather than have both players move up a position and lose to higher-caliber players.
But in fact, Pollock--whose match Taylor is at issue--handily defeated Sheryl Ryu in straight sets at number-five.
Ironically, Taylor is still protesting the match.
"It would have been in our best interests to have Erika play at number five," Graham said. "Now we just have to wait and see the result."
DeLone, Henikoff Triumph
Harvard (13-4 overall, 4-0 Ivy, if the win stands) started the match on a high note as Melissa McNabb and Elmuts defeating Sloan--who said she was asked to play only last Thursday--and Ryu in straight sets.
After Brown (5-1 Ivy, if the match is upheld) won at second doubles, 30th-ranked Amy deLone and Jamie Henikoff prevailed in a three-set barnburner, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, to give Harvard a 2-1 lead after doubles play. DeLone and Henikoff had beaten their primary competition--Princeton's Aila Winkler and Lauren Fortgang and Boston College's Pam Piorkowski and Jennifer Lane--to assume a front-running position for a NCAA tournament berth earlier this week.
Elmuts, Pollock and Ettus won at sixth, fifth and fourth singles to give Harvard a 5-1 lead and clinch the match. Or so an Ivy committee will soon have to decide.
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