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Netmen Eye NCAA Championship

All-Americas Chang, Shyjan, Zimmerman Return to Lead Crimson

By Daniel L. Jacobowitz

In past years, West Coast and Southern colleges have dominated the collegiate world of men's tennis.

While the Stanfords and Georgias of the nation racked up intercollegiate championships, the Harvards of the northeast struggled to earn the lone eastern regional berth to the NCAA Championships.

At least for Harvard, things should be different this year. The Crimson finished 15th in the nation last season, and with all of last year's starters returning, Harvard looks to challenge for the national title this year.

Three of five returning seniors--Albert Chang, Mike Shyjan and Mike Zimmerman--garnered All-America honors and national rankings last year. Chang finished 21st in singles in the country, and Shyjan and Zimmerman finished seventh in doubles.

Chang, who upset second-ranked Al Parker of Georgia last year, is coming off an outstanding summer. He defeated Mike Bauer, a top-100 player in the world who once eliminated Boris Becker at Wimbledon. Chang amassed 18 points on the Canadian satellite pro circuit and nearly earned a chance to play in a U.S. Open qualifying round.

John Tolmie, Derek Brown and sophomore Ian Williams return to provide depth in the fourth through sixth singles positions.

The Great Outdoors

Harvard's success will depend on how well it can overcome two obstacles: playing outdoors and injuries.

"To win the national championship, we have to be prepared to win outdoors," Co-Captain Mike Zimmerman said. "On paper we're one of the best teams. Now we have to consistently win outdoors."

"And hopefully, we'll schedule matches out of the region towards the end of the season, closer to the time of the NCAA's," Zimmerman added, referring to the outdoor national championship tournament in May. MEN'S TENNIS Oct. 4-6  HARVARD INVIT. (Harvard, Michigan, Arkansas, Texas A&M)  TBA Oct. 11-13  ECAC Team Championships (at Princeton)  TBA Nov. 7-10  Rolex ITCA Indiv. Championships (at Princeton)  TBA

But a more pressing concern for the moment is Harvard's rash of injuries. Zimmerman has been sidelined from summer tournaments with a hamstring pull. Williams is recovering from foot surgery to repair a broken bone. And Brent LaTanzi--a sophomore contending for a position--is hampered by a shoulder injury.

"If we can get out of some injuries, we'll be in good shape," Coach Dave Fish said.

Home At Last

As a result of Harvard's strong play over the last two seasons, some distant schools will travel to Cambridge to play the Crimson.

The Harvard Invitational, which runs from Oct. 4-6, features Michigan, Texas A&M and Arkansas.

"It's really nice to have some-one move to play us," Fish said. "We're so used to moving."

Zimmerman echoed similar sentiments.

"When you're on the road so much, you feel like you're living out of a bag," Zimmerman said.

The ECAC tournament, which takes place from Oct. 11-13, will give the Crimson a chance to meet eastern archrival West Virginia. And, the Rolex Championships in early November will provide "a chance for guys to shine individually," according to Fish.

These three tournaments are warm-ups for the big spring events--the National Indoor Team Championships, the Corpus Christi Invitational and the Blue-Grey Classic.

But, Harvard's entrance to the NCAA championships will mostly depend on its ability to win the Eastern region.

"It's unusual for us to get enough votes to get in to the NCAA's as an at-large bid," Fish said. "Our main thrust is to win the Ivies and the Eastern region, which means beating West Virginia. If we beat those teams, we get to go to the NCAA's."

The Crimson's diverse array of recruits will also face stiff competition from last season's NCAA-experienced starters.

But, Fish gave high marks to freshman Andrew Rueb, who was ranked 22nd in under-18 competition. Rueb has won two national amateur tournaments and is a "good doubles player," according to Fish.

"He's someone who has a pretty good chance for making a spot for himself," Fish said.

Umesha Walloopillai, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, has played in Davis Cup matches for his country since age 15. He is the mystery recruit. Fish said he has yet to see him play.

Cesar Conde, Chris Laitala, Sean Sullivan and Sudhakar Kosaraju will also vie for positions.

"We don't know quite how the guys will stack up," Fish said. "We have five seniors from the group last year. So we'll have to wait and see."

But a more pressing concern for the moment is Harvard's rash of injuries. Zimmerman has been sidelined from summer tournaments with a hamstring pull. Williams is recovering from foot surgery to repair a broken bone. And Brent LaTanzi--a sophomore contending for a position--is hampered by a shoulder injury.

"If we can get out of some injuries, we'll be in good shape," Coach Dave Fish said.

Home At Last

As a result of Harvard's strong play over the last two seasons, some distant schools will travel to Cambridge to play the Crimson.

The Harvard Invitational, which runs from Oct. 4-6, features Michigan, Texas A&M and Arkansas.

"It's really nice to have some-one move to play us," Fish said. "We're so used to moving."

Zimmerman echoed similar sentiments.

"When you're on the road so much, you feel like you're living out of a bag," Zimmerman said.

The ECAC tournament, which takes place from Oct. 11-13, will give the Crimson a chance to meet eastern archrival West Virginia. And, the Rolex Championships in early November will provide "a chance for guys to shine individually," according to Fish.

These three tournaments are warm-ups for the big spring events--the National Indoor Team Championships, the Corpus Christi Invitational and the Blue-Grey Classic.

But, Harvard's entrance to the NCAA championships will mostly depend on its ability to win the Eastern region.

"It's unusual for us to get enough votes to get in to the NCAA's as an at-large bid," Fish said. "Our main thrust is to win the Ivies and the Eastern region, which means beating West Virginia. If we beat those teams, we get to go to the NCAA's."

The Crimson's diverse array of recruits will also face stiff competition from last season's NCAA-experienced starters.

But, Fish gave high marks to freshman Andrew Rueb, who was ranked 22nd in under-18 competition. Rueb has won two national amateur tournaments and is a "good doubles player," according to Fish.

"He's someone who has a pretty good chance for making a spot for himself," Fish said.

Umesha Walloopillai, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, has played in Davis Cup matches for his country since age 15. He is the mystery recruit. Fish said he has yet to see him play.

Cesar Conde, Chris Laitala, Sean Sullivan and Sudhakar Kosaraju will also vie for positions.

"We don't know quite how the guys will stack up," Fish said. "We have five seniors from the group last year. So we'll have to wait and see."

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