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It seems like just yesterday that the Harvard women's tennis team was returning from the NCAA Tournament East Regional final after a tough 5-2 loss at the hands of top seeded William & Mary.
Then again that is the beauty of college tennis, the season just never ends. After finishing up the spring season last May, the Crimson is ready to hit the courts once again today.
In a sport where burnout nips at each athlete's heel, Harvard tried to take full advantage of its four month break.
"In the off-season our court time gets cut done a lot so we do more off the court work and hit only a few times a week," junior Julia Kim said. "In tennis a lot of players have been playing since they were 10 or 11 so the off-season is very important to avoid burnout."
Summer is over now and the team is ready to hit the courts for the fall season. Coming off the team's best season (19-5) since 1988 and returning four of the top six players, the Crimson appears to be in prime position to establish itself securely in the top 20.
The main weapons in the Crimson attack will be sophomore Ivy Wang and senior Gina Majmudar.
Possessing incredible consistency and an aggressive baseline game, Wang remained in the top slot for most of last season.
In her wake, she upset the NCAA's eighth-ranked singles player, William & Mary's Lauren Nikolaus.
Another solid baseliner, Majmudar combines her court speed with a solid net attack to be a major nemesis for any opponent.
Also figuring to be key threats will be strong-serving junior Gabriela Hricko, sophomore Rosemary She (who was sidelined in the final match of the season with back spasms) and Kim who possesses a fine touch at the net.
"We are returning four of the top six players and we also have four freshmen who are ready to step right in," Kim said. "All of us know that we can do a lot better than we did last season. We could have made the top 16."
The first warm-up tournament for the Crimson will be the Harvard Invitational which will be held at the Palmer Dixon Courts both today and tomorrow.
Not only will this tournament serve as a tune-up for the ECAC Championships which occur the following weekend, it will also give the new freshmen a chance to take a close first look at college tennis.
At this point, however, the fall season pales in comparison with the intense spring schedule. The players are using the four fall tournament events to rid their games of the summer kinks.
Nonetheless, however, the fall campaign still holds important weight for the rest of the year and has the potential to set the tone for the nationals.
"The coaches are pushing for a successful fall," Kim said. "We want to set ourselves up for the spring, get the freshmen into the college experience, and we are looking to go to the national indoors. It isn't the easiest of feats, but we are in striking distance."
With the fall season just around the corner, Harvard is looking to explode into national tennis prominence this year. It has the weapons, the confidence and the drive. Now all it has to do is put it all together.
"We are more aware of what it takes this year," Kim said. "We know what it takes to get there and we know that we can do it."
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