It's called the Harvard Invitational, and the players all say it's a "very good tournament," but it is tough to escape the impression that this weekend is but a tuneup for the Harvard men's tennis team.
Next weekend is the ECAC Championship tournament, and after that, the Rolex Regional tournament--the meat of the fall tennis schedule.
The magnitude of those upcoming events leaves the Harvard Invitational shorn of any real importance.
"I think it is a very competitive tournament," sophomore Dan Chung said. "But we're definitely focusing towards next week. This tournament helps us get match toughness."
Minnesota, Yale, Richmond and Nevada-Las Vegas are sending players to individual tournament. Players are loosely divided into `A' and `B' flights for seeding purposes, with one singles and doubles round to be played on the first day.
Harvard will field 16 players, according to captain Marshall Burroughs, but not every school will bring that many. UNLV Coach Larry Easley said his team was bringing just four.
"We're in the same boat as Harvard, preparing for the big tournaments," Easley said. "In the past, the Rolex Regionals was out first taste of match play, now, this helps us get more ready."
Each of the teams has lost key players to the National Clay Court championships, which started yesterday in Mississippi and extend through the weekend. Junior Andrew Rueb, Harvard's top player, is competing in that tournament in singles play and also in doubles with partner junior Umesha Wallooppillai.
Although an early exit could have Rueb and Wallooppillai back in Cambridge this weekend, Burroughs said the two would not play.
Burroughs himself will be on the sidelines with a nagging hamstring injury but will play in the doubles competition with freshman Mitty Arnold. Sophomore Todd Meringoff may also sit this one out, he added.
Who's left? Chung, sophomore Howard Kim and junior Chris Laitala will carry the flag for Harvard, while Easley said UNLV's top player, Roger Pattersson, would be present.
Minnesota is supposed to be the best team, but Easley said Harvard and UNLV were not far behind.
"It's good competition," Burroughs said. "There are some players with national rankings here, and many of the guys lower down will get to play."
UNLV has often been accused of lacking cultured athletes but Easley is working hard to make sure his band of four gets the full Boston Experience, talking his team to visit Lexington and Concord.
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