Men's Tennis Eyes Top Spots in NCAAs

* Leadership of Blake, Tseng will dictate future

Making it to the top requires one part skill, one part determination and a pinch of luck. For the last two years, the Harvard men's tennis team has had all the ingredients to be successful, and as a result has captured the Region 1 championship for two straight years.

At the helm of this year's effort will be co-captains Tom Blake and Philip Tseng.

"The team's success will boil down to the direction they provide and the team's work ethic," said Coach Dave Fish '73 talking about his two captains. "We are looking to them to lead a youthful group and are counting on them to be the force to keep them in line."

If the Crimson follow its leaders, then to the NCAA tournament Harvard may go.

Blake is a two-time All-American and last year advanced to the national semifinals in doubles with his now graduated teammate Mitty Arnold '97.

It was a historic run for the duo and although historic records are not complete, it is believed that the last time a Harvard player advanced to the semifinals in the national tournament was during the 1920s or 1930s.

As a team, after winning the Region 1 championship for the second year in a row, the Crimson continued on until the national round of 16 where it fell to powerhouse Stanford. After the match, Fish admitted that although the Harvard program is superior in the East region and slowly inching towards national prominence, it remains a few steps behind the West Coast Powers.

"I thought that if [Stanford] brought 100 percent of theirs against 100 percent of ours, they were going to win," said Fish after the Stanford defeat.

Nonetheless, after losing only Blake and senior captain Joshua Hausman, Harvard should be strong once again. Last year the team cruised to a 20-7 record which included a 8-1 league mark.

"We have had two really good years and we have a good nucleus returning," said Fish.

With Blake, who was also tagged as a National Player to Watch, and Tseng leading the charge, the Crimson can look to be a contender this year within the region and nationally as well.

The biggest threats to a Harvard threepeat in the region are Virginia Tech and the University of Miami.

"We just eked out a win over Miami last year," said Fish. "Virginia Tech will be very strong too since they only lost their top player."

Fish believes that these teams and Harvard will be fighting for the region championship this year.

Adding to the Crimson's talent pool are incoming freshmen Anthony Barker, James Blake, Scott Clark and Andrew Styperek.