While the rest of Harvard has spent the winter bundled up in dormitories, the men's and women's tennis teams have been tuning up for the crucial dual-match spring season by participating in numerous tournaments. As a result, they are poised and ready to conquer the Ivy League, assert themselves as the dominant team in the Northeast, and get to the big dance--the NCAAs.
The men's team was there last year, stunning No. 1 seed (12th-ranked) Florida at the Palmer-Dixon courts across the Charles. Its reward was a sweet-sixteen date with powerhouse Mississippi State and a first-round exit. This year, the players hope for better luck.
"Our goal is getting back to the NCAAs and winning one or two rounds," co-captain Mitty Arnold said.
Winning the Ivies has been a given the past two years, but Harvard was shocked by Columbia in a fall match. The players, however, regard this as an aberration to be remedied on the 12th of April across the river.
"We are definitely looking forward to playing them again," said fellow co-captain Josh Hausman.
There is plenty of reason to hope that Harvard will improve on last year's final 19th-ranking. Despite the loss of seniors Todd Meringoff and Dan Chung, the nucleus of the 1995-96 team remains.
Notably, the Crimson boasts last year's All-American junior Tom Blake. Currently the 29th-ranked player in the country, the 6'5 Connecticut native has shown flashes of brilliance in key matches. He also teams up with Arnold to form the 19th-ranked duo that knocked off top-ranked TCU last fall.
In addition, junior Philip Tseng--the 1995-96 leader in wins--and a crew of talented sophomores and freshmen from diverse places such as Dublin, Ireland and The Gap, Australia are ready to drive the Crimson deep into the NCAAs. Coach Dave Fish takes his 4-1, 25th-ranked squad into Alabama for a 16-team tourney next week that will match the team against the top schools in the nation and prepare it for an exciting season.
The Harvard women's tennis team members, however, are not about to let their male counterparts upstage them. In fact, they are currently 5-2 and ranked No. 23--two spots higher than the men. Although Harvard has no players ranked in the top 50, it is an extremely balanced squad, and collegiate tennis is truly a team sport.
"It should be a good season," said senior captain Gina Majmudar, whose younger brother Kunj also plays at Harvard.
"Winning the Ivies should not be a problem," said sophomore Rosemary She, "although Brown might be harder competition this year."
Although last year's squad did not make the NCAAs, falling to William & Mary in the regional finals, the players hope that they will have an easier road in 1996-97. Their optimism lies in the fact that the team only lost two seniors to graduation, Kate Roiter and Kelly Granat, who played #5 and #6 singles. In their place, several freshmen are expected to contribute significantly.
The women look up to Ivy Wang, the sophomore star from Pennsylvania who dazzles even her own teammates. Following her in the rotation are Majmudar, She and junior Gabriela Hricko--who recently won the Princeton Invitational. The remaining spots are manipulated by head coach Gordon Graham.
Chances are few and far between to catch this team in action at the Palmer-Dixon courts. Most of the schedule is comprised of road games, but April 18th and 19th matches versus Cornell and Princeton are a chance for all of us to put on our shorts, leap over the toxic river and cheer on the Crimson.