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The Harvard men's tennis team will make its 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA Men's Tennis Team Championships tomorrow afternoon, taking on first-round opponent Notre Dame in Terre Haute, Ind.
No. 19-ranked Harvard (20-4, 7-0 Ivy) reached the third round of last year's tournament and is a favorite against No. 30 Notre Dame (17-7). However, the Crimson will likely have to contend with a pro-Irish crowd in Notre Dame's home state of Indiana.
Leading the way for the Crimson is the nation's No. 1 ranked player, sophomore James Blake. Blake has already won two of the Grand Slam tournaments this year in singles play and has held the top spot in the national rankings since Dec. 8, 1998. He has compiled a spectacular 33-3 singles record so far this season.
At the No. 2 spot, Harvard sends up co-captain Kunj Majmudar, ranked No. 48 nationally. Majmudar--who, along with Blake, qualified for the NCAA singles and doubles championships to be held May 26-30 in Athens, Ga.--helped lead the Crimson squad to a perfect 7-0 Ivy League season and fifth consecutive league title.
As a doubles tandem this season, Majmudar and Blake have been excellent. The duo is currently ranked No. 3 and boasts a 22-7 record.
The Crimson will also look to junior John Doran, who normally plays the No. 2 slot, to continue his solid play this weekend as the squad looks to advance. Doran's has steadily improved this season and is currently ranked No. 93.
Rounding out the Crimson line-up are co-captain Mike Passarella, junior Joe Green and freshman William Lee.
In doubles play, Harvard sports solid pairs in addition to Blake and Majmudar. At No. 2, Doran and Passarella have played excellent tennis all season long, and Green and sophomore Scott Clark have been solid at the No. 3 spot.
The winner of the Harvard-Notre Dame matchup will take on the winner of the match between Baylor, seeded No. 15 despite a No. 10 national ranking, and No. 63 Indiana State. That second-round match is Sunday morning at the same site.
The NCAA Division I Team Tournament features 64 teams, including 28 conference champions who receive automatic selection.
The first two rounds are played at 16 sites around the country, with each composed of one No. 1-16, No. 17-32, No. 33-48 and No. 49-64 seed. The winners at each site will advance to the Final 16 at the University of Georgia in Athens on May 22-25.
The Crimson, making its 15th appearance in the national tournament overall, has reached the round of 16 in each of the last three seasons.
Before making its reservations for Georgia, however, the Crimson will likely receive stiff challenges from both Notre Dame and Baylor--assuming the Bears dispose of Indiana State in the first round.
Although Harvard is not the favorite to advance from the bracket, the Crimson has made noise in the tournament before and will look to do so again in 1999.
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