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April 21, 1998 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-21

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22 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 21, 1998

Eisner's squad primed for
Big Tens - and beyond

By Mark Francescutti
Iaily Sports Writer
N Michigan men's tennis coach Brian
Eisner says his team is looking far past
the Big Ten Championships, even fur-
ther than the regional championships.
The Wolverines are experienced and
deep -- and one of the most dangerous
teams in the country. What better time
than now for the Wolverines to make a
run for the NCAA Tournament?
In collegiate tennis, for a northern
team to gain entry to the NCAA
Tournament is always a big deal,
because the warmer-weather schools
usually have the strongest teams.
But there are several roadblocks
along the path to the championships in
Athens, Ga.
First, the Wolverines have two more
huge matches at home. They will try to
end their regular season with a couple
wins, starting with a match against
Illinois (7-0 Big Ten, 15-5 overall) on
Saturday and Purdue (5-3, 10-9) on
Illinois is undefeated in Big Ten play
and alone at the top of the Big Ten
standings, one match ahead of
Michigan. The defending Big Ten
champion's 7-0 conference start is the
squad's best in Big Ten play since 1972.
Illinois also beat rivals Notre Dame
and Northwestern, two teams to which
Michigan lost last week.
Michigan (6-1, 12-5) is alone in see-
ond place, and with wins against the
Illini and Purdue would earn the best

outright record in the Big Ten - plus
the No. I seed in the Big Ten
But the Wolverines have lost two of
three after a six-game winning streak.
And if the Wolverines lost to the tough
singles of Notre Dame and
Northwestern, the future doesn't bode
well against the Fighting Illini -- 8th-
ranked Illinois has some of the
strongest singles in the nation.
Oliver Freelove and Cary Franklin
lead the power lineup and are highly
regarded for their strong serves. Gavin
Sontag and Jakub Teply head the sup-
porting cast for the Illini.
While the Wolverines have dominat-
ed against the weaker teams in singles
- as in Wisconsin on Sunday, when
they dominated five of the six matches
- they have fallen short against tough
singles teams.
Simply put, the Wolverines aren't
getting the singles wins they need to
earn a big victory.
"It's not what 'they' are doing, it's
what 'we' are doing," Eisner said. "If
we play our best tennis, we expect to
Another problem for the Wolverines
has been the total collapse at doubles of
Starting the Big Ten season with six
straight wins, the No. 2 doubles tandem
of Matt Wright and Jake Raiton faltered
this past weekend with three straight
The No. 3 doubles team, which

switched lineups last week, has l
straight. Eisner and assistant
Goldberg will search this week i
right combination.
"We have to determine if we
just had a bad couple of days, or i
needs to be a change," Goldberg
But the No. 1 tandem of Brook
and Arvid Swan is playing its bes
bles ever, and the two have beena
unstoppable in singles as of late.
In addition, Michigan isn't in a
trouble. After all, the two recent
were both extremely close contes
could have gone either way.
"The Northwestern coach sai
this (weekend's) match was the
performance this season," Eisne
"We just have to keep improving
Two wins this weekend wou
Michigan in good position for t
Ten Tournament which Illinois w
from April 30-May 3.
The tournament starts outv
play-in tournament between the 1
four teams in the conference. Th
that survives will then join th
seven for the championship tourn
After Big Tens, the Wolverir
almost guaranteed, barring a ca
phe, a spot in the regional ch
onships at Notre Dame starting M
Michigan has a good chance to q
as do Big Ten teams Northweste
Illinois, along with host NotreI
The single regional winner gain
to the NCAA Championships at t
of May.

ost six
for the
e have
f there
t dou-
ny real
ts that
id that
ir best
r said.
ild put
he Big
ill host
with a
e team
he top
ies are

Brooke Hart and
the Michigan
women's tennis
team have a
chance to reac
9-2 in the Big Te
when Wisconsin
and Northwestern
come to town*
next weekend.
t 7-2 ' women's tens hs't
wrppdcc teutye
Wra e U COewhen W isc ons e R

Daily Sports.
The best Michigan tennis coverage
money can buy (plus, it's free).

itastro- By Drew Beaver
hampi- Daily Sports Writer
Aay 15.. With a 7-2 conference record, the Michigan women's
qualify, tennis team appears to be sitting pretty in the conference
rn and standings. But due to a large amount of parity in the Big
Dame. Ten this year, Michigan needs some help to garner the top
s a bid seed in the conference tournament.
he end The Wolverines, ranked No. 46 nationally, will have an
opportunity to help themselves next weekend and could
extend their conference record to 9-2 when Wisconsin and
Northwestern come to Ann Arbor for matches on Saturday
and Sunday. Both matches start at 10 a.m.
Next weekend "is a very important weekend for us,"
Michigan sophomore Danielle Lund said. "We're not def-
initely in the (NCAA) regional, and we need these wins to
get there."
Wisconsin enters the match with the Wolverines tied
with Purdue for the No. 1 spot in the Big Ten standings.
The Badgers are ranked 19th nationally and a win for the
Wolverines would be their biggest upset of the year.
Sunday, Northwestern comes to town with its eyes on an
upset of its own. The Wildcats, who were ranked 22nd
nationally earlier in the year, have fallen to No. 65 in the
most recent ITA rankings. Northwestern got off to a slow
start in the conference, losing matches to Wisconsin and
Purdue early in the year, But the Wildcats have not lost to
a conference foe since Mar. 1. They are tied with the
Wolverines for the second spot in the conference.
"I anticipate both of these matches to be very c,se,"
Michigan coach Bitsv Ritt said. "They're both very impor-
tant matches. Northwestern has been playing well over the
last few weeks."

With several teams bunched up at the top of the coonfer-
ence standings, this weekend will play a definitive role-in
determining the seedings for the Big Ten Tournament
April 30-May 5.
Three of the top four Big Ten teams will be playing in
Ann Arbor this weekend, and the team that can put two
matches together will likely emerge with the highest seed
in the Big Ten Tournament.
Purdue is the other team at the top of the standings. The
Boilermakers are sitting in fine position. with a 7-1 B
Ten record and only Minnesota and Iowa left on their c6n-
ference schedule. Michigan will need both the Hawkeyes
and the Gophers to pull off upsets in order to secure the
top seed at the Big Ten Tournament. If both Michigan and
Purdue end the season with identical records, the
Boilermakers would earn the higher seed by virtue of their
head-to-head win over the Wolverines.
The match against the Badgers could prove to be an
especially crucial one for the Wolverines. Wisconsin has
only one Big Ten loss, and a win over the Badgers woiu
assure the Wolverines a higher seed at the tourname ,
barring a loss to Northwestern Sunday.
Michigan has gotten some help from Wisconsin already
- the Badgers handed Minnesota their second conferen'ce
loss of the season last Saturday. Minnesota also dropped a
match to Northwestern on Sunday.
With only two conference losses, Northwestern has a
chance to gain a higher seed than the Wolverines if the
Wildcats pull off an upset on Sunday.
Michigan can ill-afford to drop both weekend matches,
as that would add up to four conference losses on the yen-

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NiW ol.!II~.I

Continued from Page 19
three or four games from teams."
But Michigan lost three games to the
Spartans and dug an even deeper hole in
the standings. Now, even winning three
or four games from Penn State and
Indiana in coming weeks might not be
Try as they may to catch up, the
Wolverines will need help from other Big
Ten teams. Because only four clubs make
the conference tournament, Michigan
has its eyes set on that fourth spot.
And only if Indiana or Iowa (in third
and fourth, respectively) falters big time
might Michigan be able to sneak up
there. Not only would the Hoosiers (10-
6) or the Hawkeyes (9-7) have to stum-
ble, but three other teams still stand in
Michigan's way: Minnesota, Penn State
and the Spartans would have to collapse
as well.
Now, Iowa and Penn State could slow
the sands in Michigan's hourglass a little

this weekend. They have to face Illinois
and Ohio State - the two best teams in
the Big Ten at 11-5.
But the problem with all this wishful
thinking comes May 1 when Minnesota
faces Michigan State. One team must
prevail, and that will likely block
Michigan's path. Even if the Goph
and Spartans split that four-game senes,
it wouldn't slow the sands of the hour-
glass much.
So the obstacles are numerous, 4d at
this point the numbers are against the
Wolverines. They're 6-10 in the confer-
ence, five games out of first place and
three games out of the top four, with
only eight left to play.
The goal is still very clear: Win near-
ly every game and maybe, just maybe,
enough sands will stick at the top of
hourglass, that Michigan will fal
Indiana (currently in third) in three
weeks with a chance at jumping into the
top four with a series sweep.
But for now, Zahn's club can only do
the hardest thing possible - wait.

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