May 16, 1996
Harvard
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Men's Tennis to Meet Sixth-Seeded Mississippi in NCAA Championships

The Harvard men's tennis team will meet Mississippi State in the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships, the NCAA Seeding Committee announced today. The match will take place this Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.

The Crimson, ranked 22nd in the nation, captured the Region I title this past weekend in Cambridge as the NCAA Championships commenced at eight regional sites. Harvard (21-8) is the two-time defending EITA champion and will be making its first appearance in the round of 16 since 1992. Harvard also advanced this far in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986, but has never gone beyond this point. Officially, the Crimson is seeded between 13 and 16 in the 16-team field. (Except for the top four seeds, the remaining 12 seeds are grouped in fours and randomly paired with opponents.) Mississippi State (19-5) won the SEC Tournament and drew an automatic bye to the round of 16. The ninth-ranked Bulldogs drew the fourth seed in the NCAA Tournament and are led by Thomas Dupre, the ninth-ranked singles player in the country.

The NCAA Championships are single-elimination and run from May 18-21. The individual tournament, which includes Harvard senior Todd Meringoff (Old Westbury, N.Y.) and sophomore Tom Blake (Fairfield, Conn.) in singles and the doubles tandem of Meringoff and junior Mitty Arnold (Providence, R.I.), runs May 22-26.

In earlier action, the men's tennis team stunned top-seeded Florida, 4-0, to win the Region I NCAA Championship and advance to the round of 16. The match was moved indoors before 196 spectators at Palmer Dixon Courts due to rain.

Harvard captured the team doubles point, then triumphed in singles at Nos. 1, 2, and 3 to take the match against 12th-ranked Florida. Interestingly, in Saturday's semifinal win against Virginia Tech, it was victories at Nos. 4, 5, and 6 that propelled the Crimson to the 5-1 win.

Harvard sophomore Tom Blake pulled off the biggest upset and set the tone for the singles matches. Unranked among the nation's top 100 singles players, Blake downed seventh-ranked Damon Henkel in straight sets, 7-6 (4), 6-4. In the second set, Henkel broke Blake to pull to within 5-4, but Blake broke back to win the set and the match. It gave Harvard a 2-0 lead at the time.

Earlier, the Crimson received a key victory at No. 3 doubles. With the first two doubles matches split, the third doubles match entered a tiebreaker, and the winning tandem would secure the lone doubles point for his team. Crimson freshmen Mike Passarella and Elliot Weiss, having survived a matchpoint prior to the tiebreaker at 8-7, won the tiebreaker, 8-6, to take the match, 9-8. By garnering the doubles point, Harvard entered the singles matches with a 1-0 lead.

 


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