A hard but important lesson was learned by the Harvard men's tennis team Saturday afternoon on the indoor tennis courts at Columbia University: no team, not even the mighty Crimson, is invinceable.
The Lions of Columbia handed the Crimson its first ECAC (East Coast Athletic Conference) loss of the early spring season in a 4-3 decision, taking two of the three doubles matches and winning three of the six singles contests.
"We knew we had to play well to beat them," junior Andrew Rueb said. "It was a dog-fight and we came up on the losing end."
The Crimson played its weekend matches without the services of number-one/two singles player, sophomore Todd Meringoff, and numberfour singles player Umesha Wallooppillai.
While their absence did not stop the Crimson from defeating the Quakers 6-1 on Friday afternoon in Philadelphia, the under-manned Harvard squad got more than it could handle on Saturday.
"It took a lot of things to go wrong for us to lose to Columbia," Rueb said. "And we still were within a few points of pulling it out."
The match against Columbia began badly and quickly grew worse.
In the earlier doubles action, the first-flight tandem of Rueb and freshman Josh Hausman defeated their opponents 9-8 in an eight-game proset.
The other two doubles matches, however, went to the Lions, and Columbia earned the single team point awarded to the winner of two out of three doubles matches.
Captain Marshall Burroughs and freshman Mitty Arnold dropped the number-two doubles match 8-6 and sophomores Howard Kim and Daniel Chung lost 8-1 at third doubles.
"They jumped on us right away," Arnold said. "They beat us pretty handily in doubles so we knew we were in trouble right from the beginning.
As singles play began the Crimson's hopes dimmed even further with Harvard dropping the first set in four of the six singles matches.
Rueb and Arnold had a relatively easy time of it at first and fourth flight singles, respectively. Rueb put away his opponent 6-3, 6-3, and Arnold won 6-1, 6-3.
At second-flight singles Burroughs, who had dropped the first set 3-6, managed to regroup and raise the Crimson's chances by taking the next two sets 7-5 and 6-1.
With the three singles victories for Harvard, however, the Crimson still found itself in the back seat.