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September 22, 1983 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-09-22

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Page 10 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 22, 1983

Moving on up:

Ex-Blue netter Leach makes
top 100 from sub-zero weather

Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ar-
thur Ashe and Stan Smith are only four
of the tennis superstars.who launched
lucrative careers with an NCAA singles
championship. Of course, these players
all went to school in California and if
you don't play for a college in the land
of sunshine you'll never become one of
the world's best, right?
Mike Leach celebrated his graduation
from Michigan in 1982 by winning the
NCAA title and turning professional.
The first champion from a school out-
side California or Texas since
Wolverine netter Barry MacKay turned
the trick in 1957, Leach went into that
tournament unseeded and proceeded to
mow down six opponents, losing only
one set on the road to the championship.
NOW, A YEAR and a week after tur-
ning pro, Leach has already dealt with
some of the highs and lows of life on the
"I've had two outstanding highlights
in my career so far," said the 23-year-
old Leach, "Making the round of 16 at
Wimbledon this year, and getting to the
finals of the Italian Open in doubles
(Leach was paired with Jan Gunderson
of Sweden). The Italian is still a major

event and it was good to finally get to
play in a final."
The Weston, Mass.native saw his name
prominently mentioned on the sports
page this June at Wimbledon when he
upset two highly-rated Australians,
Paul MacNamee and Mark Edmon-
dson. The 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 triumph
over Edmondson, known as one of the
world's top grass-court players, put
Leach into the fourth round where San-
dy Mayer put an end to his string, 6-1, 7-
Michigan coach and current advisor,

you've established yourself as a
player," the Wolverine mentor said.
"More importantly, he's got a lot of
confidence in himself. Mike has gained
the respect of his peers and he has an
excellent chance to continue to move up
in the rankings."
Leach is also happy with his ranking
after one year. "It means I'm going to
make a living," he noted.
THE 1982 NCAA may have given
Leach a hint that he wouldn't go hungry
if he stuck with tennis for a while. After
four outstanding years at Michigan,
during which he compiled a record of

'I've had two outstanding highlights in my career
so far. Making the round of 16 at Wimbledon and
getting to the finals of the Italian Open in
doubles...it was good to finally get to play in a
final.' - Mike Leach
professional tennis player

Upon joining the pro ranks, the 5-10,
170-pound Leach found that he had to
adapt to the mental strain of the game.
"Unlike college where you play on the
weekends and practice during the
week, now I'm competing almost every
day," said the former Wolverine. "But
you automatically get better. Now I'm
working out with Gene Mayer rather
than Mark Mees (Michigan's number
one singles .player last season). And
that's not meant as a comment on
Mark's play."
EISNER AND Leach seem to have
formed a mutual admiration society.
Says the student, "I think Brian Eisner
is absolutely the most positive person
I've ever known. He's riding a constant
high on life. I learned to believe in
myself through Brian."
The coach is not sparing in praise
either. "Mike has got the power-
quickness combination that I consider
the key to his success. Only a very few
of the men and women on the tour have
that combination."
Leach lives in Ypsilanti with his wife
of two years, Bunny, and "a kid on the
way in a month." He works out in Ann
Arbor when he's not playing in one of
the 30-35 events he plans on entering
this year. Leach "never regretted" his
choice to attend Michigan and cites the
university's tennis program and
scholastics as two reasons he didn't end
up in the Sun Belt.
College in Ann Arbor? Home in Yp-
silanti? Mike Leach had better hurry
out to San Diego or Dallas. After all,
everyone knows you can't play tennis in
Don't they?

Brian Eisner, Leach was dealt a set-
back upon returning to America from
London when he sprained an ankle just
before a series of hardcourt tour-
naments was slated to begin. Eisner
believes that his protege has the talent
and mental toughness to overcome ad-
versities such as missing time on his
best surface.
"Mike has made a lot of progress in
the technical area of the game and his
ranking (Leach is now 90th in the
world) demonstrates that progress.
Once you're in the top 100 you know

99-18 in singles play, won four Big Ten
titles and was named All-American
twice, the southpaw culminated his
collegiate career by defeating Brad
Gilbert of Pepperdine, 7-5, 6-3 to take
the national crown.
"As opposed to other years, I really
didn't have any feelings whatsoever
(going into the '82 championships),"
Leach said. I wasn't afraid to play, but I
didn't have a particularly good feeling
either. I just hit tennis balls. That may
have turned out to be my advantage."

Uily rhoto by BRDIUA NM
Former Wolverine Mike Leach shows his backhand form here as he warms
up for a 1982 Michigan tennis match. This year Leach expects to participate
in 30 to 35 professional tournaments.

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