52 Years of Net Frustration End

The year was 1956. A war hero was running for President against an Illinois politician. Citizens were angry about the price of gas, which had reached an all-time high for the decade–23 cents per gallon. Elvis Presley first hit the top 40 charts with “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Their names are Bob Pratt, Phil D’Arrigo, Geoff Steere, Carl Getty, Hans Engelhardt, Michael Heeg, John Coulthurst and David Willcox. They went on to become doctors, dentists, professors, and financial services consultants.

Coached by Norm Bramall, those members of the Haverford tennis team turned the tables on the Swarthmore squad which had beaten them in 1955, and took a 5-4 victory for a Hood Trophy point. That team had a 12-1 record; Pratt, Steere and Coulthurst were undefeated during the season.

The year is 2008. A war hero may be running….well, you know the rest. (If you’re curious about the price of gas, we can tell you that the 23c/gallon in 1956 is $2.15 in today’s dollars.) Elvis is dead.

Their names are Tom Kinrade, Steve Feder, Evan Stiegel, Marc Rudolph, Hailu Yang and Marc Adelberg. Their coach is Sean Sloane, a fitting successor to the legendary Bramall.

Supported by 14 teammates, all of whom played at least one varsity match this season, those six members of Haverford’s men’s tennis team turned the tables on a Swarthmore squad that had beaten them, 6-3, three days earlier, to take a 5-4 win in the first round of the Centennial Conference 2008 playoffs.

And in between 1956 and 2008….a lot of tennis balls had flown over a lot of nets, Elvis had many hits, but no Haverford men’s tennis team had ever beaten Swarthmore in one of the longest series losing streaks ever in college sports.

Marc Rudolph applied the coup de grace to Swarthmore on April 26 when he took the final set of his 3-set match, 6-0, reversing a straight-set defeat by the same opponent on April 23 and ending Swarthmore’s dominance. Teammates Adelberg in singles and Kinrade/Stiegel in doubles also found the winning secret somewhere between April 23 and 26.

The Fords didn’t have much left in the conference finals the next day vs. Johns Hopkins, but they finished with a winning record and second place in a very tough league. Kinrade was named Player of the Year in the Centennial, and he and doubles partner Stiegel made the All-Conference team.

Adelberg will walk across the Haverford Commencement stage on May 18. The others will all be back in 2009. We don’t think it will take Haverford 52 years to beat Swarthmore again.

-Greg Kannerstein ’63