Page 4-The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday- March 9, 1992
Goals set for
After two conference losses, women aim to finish in top three
Women dealt good
by Mike Hill
taily Sports Writer
Coaches at the University of
Michigan say that the combination
bf academics and athletics is a great
marketing item for recruiting. But
the women's tennis team may have
found a secret new selling tool when
they garnered rookie star Jaimie
. Fielding made official visits to
five schools; Wisconsin, North
Carolina State, Furman, Miami of
'Ohio, and Michigan. The basis for
her decision may have come down
to, of all things, a card game.
"My family has played euchre
"ever since I was a little girl,"
"Fielding said. "My father's from
Upstate New York and he learned
how to play there. But not many
'people in Kentucky know how to
play. And so I come up to Ann
Arbor, on my third college visit, and
-'there's euchre fanatics on the team.
played my best match of the seasua
against them and that was kind of
when I started getting into it."
'They play at dinner,
and when we're at the
airport they'll get out
the cards. The school
is really great and the
girls on the team are'
lots of fun, but that
was what really sold it
- Jaimie Fielding
Michigan tennis player
by Sharon Lundy
Daily Sports Writer
Off to a rocky start, the
Michigan women's tennis team (0-2
Big Ten, 2-5 overall) is approaching
its 1992 season with realistic goals.
Last year, the Wolverines finished
fourth in the Big Ten, behind
Indiana, Wisconsin and North-
This year, Michigan was picked
to finish third in the conference in
the preseason 1992 Big Ten coaches
poll, with Indiana and Wisconsin
holding their ranks, but
Northwestern falling one spot. The
Wolverines have already lost to
both Wisconsin and Northwestern,
so they are currently in the No. 4
"Our goal is to be No. 2 or 3 in
the Big Ten and we can still do it,"
said eighth-year Michigan coach
Bitsy Ritt, who was both a letter-
winner and an assistant coach at
Wisconsin before joining the
Wolverines. "The Big Ten tourna-
ment is still seven weeks away, and
the more matches we play, the bet-
ter we get."
Around the Big Ten, Indiana has
been a reigning champion for most
of the past 10 years. With the
strongest No. I and 2 singles com-
bination in the conference, and prob-
ably the country - senior Stephanie
Reece and junior Deborah Edelman
- Indiana has a fairly sure shot at
Wisconsin, favored to finish sec-
ond in the Big Ten, has already lost
to Big Ten rival Northwestern. Two
weeks ago, the Badgers scored a 7-2
triumph over the Wolverines by
converting three close three-setters.
Northwestern squeaked through
with a 5-4 victory over the
Wolverines earlier this season, but
with such a tight score, Michigan
could pull out a victory by convert-
ing a few of the close matches in
'Although our record
isn't exactly what we'd
like it to be, I know
we're going to get
back on track -- it's
just a matter of
putting it all together.'
- Amy Malik
Michigan tennis player
their next meeting with the
The remainder of the Big Ten
schools should not pose much of a
problem for the Wolverines.
"After (Indiana, Wisconsin, and
Northwestern), we're hoping to
win every match in the Big Ten and
end up third or fourth going into the
Big Ten tournament," assistant
coach Wendy Gilles said.
The tennis schedule is also
packed with non-conference meets,
which coach Ritt stresses just as se-
riously as the conference matches.
"The atmosphere at the Big Ten
matches is a little bit different,"
Ritt said. "There's a little more en-
thusiasm from both sides, but the
players prepare for every match We
have some important non-conference
matches that they want to do well
This team rarely seems to fall
short in the enthusiasm category.
"It's a really strong team in
terms of spirit and helping each
other out," first-year player Jaimie
With a wide difference in ages -
ranging from four seniors to three
frosh - there was a concern that the
team might not get along smoothly.
But that has not been the case.
"With four seniors and a junior,
we have plenty of leadership,"
"When I was a freshman there
were no seniors on the team," senior
Amy Malik said. "It's nice for the
freshmen to have a group of seniors
to look up to, and at the same time
style of play of their opponents.
Beamon is mainly a baseline player,
and Pratt is an all-court player who
can serve and volley.
"N.C. State's first singles player
was a baseliner who thrived on
pace," Ritt explained. "Kalei is a
baseliner who hits with a lot of
pace, so I thought that Kim, with
her all-court game and change of
pace would give (N.C. State) a more
Fielding, an all-court player, has
been playing a steady No. 3 singles
At the No. 4 and 5 singles posi-
tions, Malik and sophomore trans-
fer Allison Schlonsky have been
Additionally, senior Christine
Schmeidel, an All-Big Ten player
last year at No. I singles, is no
longer on the team due to illness.
The only player lost to gradua-
tion was last year's senior captain
Stacy Berg. She played both No. 2
singles and doubles, and won the
conference ny - of honor - an
award which is ga - ie school
to a graduating sext ho has ex-
celled both academicawy and athlet-
Despite the loss of players to
graduation and injury, the rankings
show that this team is getting
stronger each year.
"Since my freshman year, I think
"They play at dinner and when,
we're at the airport they'll get out
the cards. The school is really great
and the girls on the team are lots of
fun, but that was what really sold it
for me. I guess it made it seem like it
would be more like home."
Whatever the reason, coach Bitsy
Ritt is certainly happy about
"We've got a really good group
of freshmen," Ritt said. "Fielding is
a hard worker and is playing well for
us. I think the more time we give her
the more she's going to progress.
It'll be nice to have her for the next
The Kentucky native and gradu-
ate of Waggener High School al-
ready has become a mainstay at the
71No. 3 singles position. She is the
only singles player on the team that
Ritt is not rotating.
After a slow start, Fielding has
won-her last two matches and seems
o be headed in the right direction.
Against Florida State, Fielding lost
the first set before dropping Robin
Cifaldi 6-3. 6-3 in the final two sets.
Fielding did not consider the
transition from high school to col-
lege tennis to be very difficult.
"A lot of the players I met in
tournaments during the fall I already
had played in the USTA," Fielding
Jaimie hopes that work on her
groundstrokes, especially her fore-
hand, will help compliment her
strong serve and volley singles
game. That same fast paced tactic
has impressed Ritt enough to place
her with senior Kim Pratt at the first
doubles position. Although the duo
has struggled thus'far, Fielding ex-
"There's a lot of really good
doubles teams at that position and
Kim and I have had a tough time so
far," she said. "But the coaches have
started to'really stress doubles play
and, I think, that eventually we'll get
it together the more we play with
Coming from a family of tennis
players, Fielding's interest in the
,sport was certainly not by chance.
Even though her two older brothers
are no slouches with a racket,
Jaimie's mother started it all. Now a
professional tennis teacher, Jaimie's
mom used to coach the University of
Louisville tennis team.
"I started playing when I was five
years old in my mom's summer
camps," she said. "And I used to
travel with the Louisville team when
they went on road trips."
Certainly confident for a first-
year performer, Fielding expresses
little concern with the riggers of
practicing four hours a day, playing
matches and keeping up with her
"It's kind of like a job at times,"
she said. "You've just got to get
yourself to go to class no matter how
tired you are. Maybe taking it like a
job makes it seem tedious, which, at
times, it can be, but sometimes its
the only way to get yourself going."
Fielding also says she and fellow
rookies Liz Cyganiak and Simone
Lacher have gotten along great with
the rest of the team despite their age
Senior co-captian Amy Malik feels that the quality of the women's tennis program has improved immensely since
her first year. Malik's success on the court is due in part to her mental toughness.
it's great to have some new blood in
Malik and Freddy Adam are the
co-captains this season - a job that
entails more than just a title.
"During practices, road trips, or
matches, when (Wendy and I) aren't
there, they make sure the team is act-
ing as if we were standing there all
the time," Ritt said. "They keep ev-
eryone motivated to work hard."
The lineup for the Wolverines
isn't set for the season. Ritt has been
rotating several of the positions,
and plans to du so for the remainder
of the seasc.
Junior Kalei Beamon and senior
Kim Pratt have been rotating at No.
1 and 2 ;.s.gles, depending on the
trading off, with frosh Liz
Cyganiak, at No. 6 singles, occasion-
ally rotating with them as well.
"They are so close at those posi-
tions that really anything can hap-
pen," Ritt said.
In doubles, the team has not been
completely satisfied with its re-
sults so far. They have been working
on new doubles combinations in or-
der to find which partners work
best together, as well as to prepare
for potential injuries.
Among the injuries this season
has been senior Jennifer Lev, who is
currently suffering from shoulder
problems. She will be playing dou-
bles for the team as soon as she
starts up again.
every year we've gotten better and
better," Malik said. "The teams
have been more disciplined, more
organized - we know what our
goals are, and we're really aiming
The team's outlook for the re-
mainder of the season is optimistic.
"Although our record isn't ex-
actly what we'd like it to be, I know
we're going to get back on track,"
Malik said. "It's just a matter of
putting it all together."
With the increasing amount of
determination and. unity that the
women have been showing with each
successive match, their goal of fin-
ishing in the top three of the confer-
ence seems more than realistic.