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February 03, 2000 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-03

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 3, 1999 - 9"

&ur draft
proposal.
We 're ready
play ball,
espair and anguish painted
their faces when they heard
the news. With one sentence, I
crushed the dreams of two Michigan
students.
Marc Aaron and Mark Lamais are
both graduating in three months. Both
of their futures are up in the air. So
to decided to follow their childhood
ms.
I'm in the _ __ _
same boat. As I -
search for a job .
in journalism, I
know that's not
where my heart :
truly lies.
The idea, they
solution, came JOSH
a pitcher of
at Mitch's KLINBAUM
about a month Aocalypse
agcy=Aaron, NN
Lamais and
Kleinbaum were going to enter the
Major League Baseball June Amateur
Draft.
Little did we know our dream
would be crushed by John from the
Commissioner's office. We figured a
shortstop, a pitcher and a catcher were
t erfect building blocks for any
o nization.
Aaron is a small, quick, switch-hit-
ting shortstop. Barely weighing triple
digits, his wiry frame moves about the
field with an Ozzie Smith-esque
grace. Years of rugby in Australia,
where Aaron grew up, toughened the
22-year-old and gave him the ability
to hpng in on double plays as well as
an ne. His bat lacks power, but he
h o both fields and sported a .322
average in IM softball. On the base
paths, he takes a Ty Cobb mentality,
not afraid to bare his spikes to safely
reach second.
Lamais is a fiery pitcher with a
fastball that tops off in the mid-90s
and a curve that makes your knees
buckle. Despite suffering from brain
damage as an infant, when his mother
jdropped him on his head, the right-
hoer is a quick learner, and regular-
ly ds new pitches to his repertoire.
Just two weeks ago, he polished off
his spitball. The only lingering effect
of the accident is that he occasionally
forgets the signals, and throws the
wrong pitch, crossing up his catcher.
As a result, he has an unusually high
number of wild pitches. Pitching for
his junior varsity high school team,
Lamais put together a 13-8 season
wva 2.45 ERA.
And I round out this unlikeliest of
trios. I've been going to baseball
games for longer than my memory
serves me. I've seen many great ball
players in my day, but the best would
have to be The Kid, Gary Carter.
That's why I've always been a catcher.
I'm a decent offensive player - I can
hit the ball both ways (.292 average in
Little League), but only have power to
the opposite field (eight home runs)
,-W I'm going to make my green
behind the plate. My Little League
coach once said I have a unique abili-

ty to nurture young pitchers and
develop them into superstars, and I
called the best game of any Little
League catcher he'd seen.
With this knowledge in hand,
Aaron, Lamais and I knew we could
be the cornerstone of a Major League
tc. So we decided to enter the draft.
alled information to get the num-
ber of Major League Baseball. The
operator only had the number of the
Players Association, but that was as
good a place to start as any. But the
Players Association scoffed at us.
"We don't handle the draft,' the
receptionist said. "You have to call the
commissioners office."
One more phone call, but Bud
Selig, the Commissioner of Major
L ue Baseball, was out to lunch. I
Ie voice mail message.
Torty-eight hours went by without a
word from the commish.
Then, the phone rang. It was John,
from Bud Selig's office - Bud didn't
have the courage to call me himself.
"I'm sorry," John said, unknowingly
crushing my hopes. "But there's no
formal registration process for the
draft.
Mlayers have to be discovered by a
scout, then the scout submits reports
to various teams so the teams can
draft you."
John left me with some parting
advice.
"Get out on the fields," he said.

SUPREME COURTS
By Joe Smith -Daily Sports Writer

magine sitting comfortably in a
state of the art facility in which the
seats are filled to capacity and
everyone is cheering on some of the
best athletes in the Midwest.
No you're not in the "Big House"
watching Anthony Thomas blast past
Ohio State, or a crazy member of the
"Maize Rage" in awe of Kevin Gaines
swishing a 3-pointer against the
Spartans.
You are in the Varsity Tennis Center,
watching Michigan's senior stars
Danielle Lund and Brooke Hart battle
serve-for-serve with the nation's best in
the Women's Tennis Big Ten
Championships.
This dream will become a reality
when the two-year-old facility will host
the tournament April 27-30.
Housing eight expansive indoor
Center of Attention

courts complimented by 12 professional-
ly done outdoor courts, the Varsity
Tennis Center provides the University
with a first-class facility that can host
nationally renowned tournaments. It is
also a comfortable place for students and
staff to play the sport they love.
It's received rave reviews from coach-
es and players around the country, along
with Tennis Industry Magazine selecting
it "Court of the Year."
"Michigan has set the standard for
tennis facilities -having the best indoor
and outdoor courts I've ever seen:' Ohio
State women's tennis coach Chuck
Merzbacher said.
Two NFL owners were key contribu-
tors to the well-regarded facility.
Michigan named the indoor courts
after Preston Robert Tisch, University
alumnus and owner of the New York
Giants football team, in thanks for his
generous contribution to the $6 million
dollar complex. The facility remains the
comfortable home for the men's and
women's tennis teams during the fall and
winter seasons.
When the unpredictable weath-
er of Michigan complies, the out-
S door courts - named after
University alum and Detroit

Quick Facts:
Opened in 1997
Cost $6 million to build
Boasts 12 outdoor courts, eight
indoor courts
Built with 16 lights per
outdoor court
Spectator seating for 600
Constructed with stare-of-
the-art lockerrooms, coaches' off ice
and a museum celebrating the histo
Michigan' tennis.
Membership Fees:
Full Indoor
Students $75 $50
Alumnus $350 $285
Faculty/Staff $300 $240
M-Club $275 $225
Retired Staff $160 $125
Donor $300 $240
Location:
The Varsity Tennis Center is locate
2250 South State St.
adacent to the University of NMichi
Golf Course.

[SR

Rif.
L

located 20 feet apart with 24 feet from
the baseline to curtain, giving players
more than enough room to maneuver.
The 16 lights on each court are sufficient
for hosting television coverage.
In fact, it was picked as the location
for the set of a "Charles Schwab" com-
mercial this past August, starring tennis
superstars Mary Jo Fernandez and Anna
Kournikova.
With the look ofa professional facility,
the center also includes many extras that
make it even more pleasing to players.
"The extras of the facility are excel-
lent, with training rooms, coaches
offices, and conference rooms with tele-
vision equipment all close to each other
- making it very convenient for a play-
er," Lund said. "I've never played in a
place like the Varsity Tennis Center."
With such national recognition and
respect, the center is also an exceptional
recruiting tool.
"Its the best tennis center in the coun-
try, which gives them a major recruiting
advantage - no question about it,"
Merzbacher said.
Freshman standout Joanne Musgrove,
who is approaching her 10th victory
early on in her first season, said that the
center was the extra bonus in her deci-
sion to come to Michigan.
"It has helped recruiting the past five
years," Michigan's women's tennis coach
Bitsy Ritt said. "A prime example is the
1997 Big Ten Championship team. All of
the players from that team were there
because they knew we would have this
facility."
Prior to the construction of the center,
recruits might have chosen another
school because of the fact that the tennis
teams had to play in the same building
where the track teams ran their practices.
"Prospects are impressed not only by
the facility itself, but also the level of
commitment that the University has in
the tennis program," Ritt said.
Michigan's commitment to the pro-
gram will not only benefit the men's and
women's tennis programs, but also any-
one who enjoys playing the game in
their spare time.
Anyone affiliated with the University
is encouraged to sign on and be a mem-
ber of the same courts that host colle-

Lions owner William Clay Ford - serve
as the site for the spring season meets
and tournaments. Ford started off the
) - fundraising campaign for the outdoor
ry of courts with a S1 million dollar donation.
Other coaches and players around the
country sing praises of the Wolverines'
home courts' highly desirable attributes.
Outdoor , "It's great for spectators, with the seat-
$50 ing so close and having the ability to see
four matches going on at the same time
$125 while sitting in the same seat,"
$110 Minnesota's women's tennis coach
$100 Martin Novack said.
$ The 600-seat capacity indoor center
not only sets up conveniently and com-
$110 . fortably for the fans, but also for the
players and members.
"The lighting is perfect, and much like
dt iprofessional courts, it has plenty of space
in between," junior Michigan netter
Szandra Fuzesi said. "It's the nicest ten-
nis center I've ever seen - even better
than all the country clubs I've played in."
tstvTenis C-ei The courts in the indoor center are

LOUIS BROWN/Dady
The Varsity Tennis Center, opened in 1997, has since defined itself as one of the
finest tennis facilities in the country. The center boasts 20 courts on 22 acres.

giate meets, summer camps, major tour-
naments and even commercials.
Varsity Tennis Center Supervisor Jim
Roland said the facility has many advan-
tages over other clubs.
"What distinguishes it from other
facilities is that most of the court time is
not permanently reserved, giving many
members a chance to participate,"
Roland said.
This means that there are plenty of
available times where students, staff, and
alumni can take advantage of the plenti-
ful resources the building has to offer -
and for a reasonable price as well.
The prices for students range from
S25 for a monthly membership to $75
dollars for the entire year.
The lone complaint and possible
downside to the center is that it's not just
a brisk walk through the Diag. It is
located a few miles south from the
Union down South State St. - a prob-

lems for many who do not have access t
a ride.
"During the process of building the
facility, there were four other possible
sites, but none were large enough to hold
the amount of courts we needed. It might
be somewhat inconvenient to come down
to the center because it's not a short walk,
but there are ways to get there if you real-
ly want to," coach Ritt said.
There is transportation available every
day, on the AATA (Ann Arbor
Transportation Authority) bus route 36,
which picks up every 15 minutes in front
of the Michigan Union.
There are also many other convenient
stops along State Street. This ride, which
is free if you bring your Mcard, will drop
anyone off right in front of the center.
There are also plenty of free parking
spaces on the site, so anyone with a car
doesn't have to worry about getting
those pesky parking tickets.

For information:
(734) 998-8844

Saua er

+ wrrrr

No. 2 women fight for state pride

By Richard Haddad
Daily Sports Writer

The Michigan women's gymnastics
team has proved it can compete with the
nation's elite.
In going 7-2 against strictly Top 25
teams this season, the second-ranked
Wolverines have faced nothing but the
best and found success in the process.
But this weekend at the annual
Michigan Classic in Kalamazoo, the
Wolverines will depart from the norm.
Sandwiched in between dual meets
against Kentucky and perennial power
Georgia, Michigan will be joined on the
mats by a somewhat lower level of com-
petition.
That competition is Western
Michigan, Central Michigan, Eastern
Michigan and Michigan State. While
each of these schools share a home state.
the comparisons with the Wolverines
end there. At 3-3, 6-2, 1-2 and 4-5,
respectively, only the Chippewas possess
a winning record.
"You never know as a coach whether
or not a change in the level of competi-
tion will have any effect on our perfor-
mance," Michigan coach Bev Plocki

said. "We're focused on the fact that
every meet is important regardless of the
opponent because our independent per-
formance is used to determine rankings.
In that regard, it's no different than any
other meet."
'Despite Plocki's sentiments, there are
tangible differences between the
Michigan Classic and other meets. The
meet provides a chance to give
Wolverine gymnasts who occupy alter-
nate positions an opportunity to gain
some competitive experience.
In addition, Plocki mentioned that
she may take advantage of the chance to
rest all-around performers and standouts
Sarah Cain and Karina Senior for a cou-
ple of events. With the biggest meet of
the year coming up, this week is the best
time to do so.
"Every meet is important because
each one provides a learning experi-
ence," Plocki said. "Our goal is always to
improve on past performances."
With Georgia looming, there is a
danger of looking ahead to next week.
But there is one significant factor moti-
vating the Wolverines.
In last year's Classic in Ann Arbor, the
Chippewas embarrassed Michigan on its

own floor. As a result, this time around
the Wolverines refuse to look past any-
body because each squad dreams of
knocking off mighty Michigan - a les-
son the Wolverines learned a year ago.
"State pride is why we have this
meet;" Plocki said. "I'm sure the high-
light of Central's year was beating us,
and that single win meant more to their
program than going undefeated would
have. It's a matter of state pride, because
the other teams have so much to gain."
So Michigan is left with a meet
against three members of the Mid-
American conference and the Spartans,
who the Wolverines have already demol-
ished this season. In light of the facts,
does Michigan have any incentive to
include more of these contests in future
schedules? Ask the coach.
"In the sport of gymnastics, it does-
n't matter who you compete against,"
Plocki said.
"But if we had competed against
unranked teams all year, we could lose
the competitive edge. You're only as
good as your opponents."
While the Michigan classic is good
for state pride, the answer to the question
is no.

,,,

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