iA -- 1he Michigan Waily - Thursday, April 13, 2000
U}THE DAILY GRIND
For men's tennis, Irish luck would help
By Jeff Phillips
Daly Sports Writer
One word can sum up the Michigan
men's tennis team's season thus far -dis-
Despite being ranked in the top 20
since mid-March, the Wolverines have yet
to live up to their billing. They have lost
five of their past seven matches, four to
Ig Ten teams.
'We just have to forget about what has
appened," sophomore Ben Cox said.
"We can't carry this into the next match."
The Wolverines' doubles lineup was
also shaken-up a few weeks ago when
Brad McFarlane went down with a calf
injury. Though freshman Zach Held has
played extremely well in his place,
Michigan has failed to win the doubles
point in each of its five losses.
"When you look back at the matches,
we really haven't played poorly,'
Michigan coach Mark Mees said.
Tonight, the Wolverines may have to
face Notre Dame, as they did Purdue,
without No. I singles player Matt Wright,
who injured his back against
"When you don't have arguably the
best player in the Big Ten, it hurts"
Regardless of the possibility of playing
without two of its leaders, the team
We have the heart, and we have better
players," sophomore Henry Beam said.
To defeat a powerful Notre Dame team,
the Wolverines must rally. Notre Dame is
VARSITY TENNIS CENER
Who., Michigan (9-5) vs. Notre Linie(9-8)
When: 3 pm. today
Latest: The Michigan men's tennis team has
dropped five of its last seven matches.
a top 30 team featuring one of the top sin-
gles players in the nation, No. 10 Ryan
Sachire. The Irish have defeated several
Big Ten teams this season.
The Wolverines must put the past
behind them and move on.
"We have to stay optimistic,"
McFarlane said. "We are still one of the
top teams in the Big Ten."
Sprbg trrni's over,
on to the B ik Legues
Women's track looks to escape mass confusion'
By James Mercier
Daily Sports Writer
Something has been amiss for the Michigan women's
track team this season. Or maybe a lot of things.
"Mass confusion, that's how 'd describe us right now;"
Michigan coach James Henry said yesterday.
For Michigan to have a successful outdoor track sea-
son, the young team must find its identity. Fair or not,
expectations were lofty for the Wolverines entering 2000.
The team climbed a mountain the past two years, cap-
turing and then defending the Big Ten title. But from
there, it was all downhill --the team slumped to a fifth-
place in the Big Ten Indoor Championships this year.
Personnel changes had a lot to do with the decline.
Following heavy graduation losses last season, the team
has been reliant on its underclassmen who are still look-
ing for their ideal events.
The outdoor track campaign began four weeks ago,
but like temperatures outside, things haven't heated up
yet this season. The Big Ten and NCAA Championships
are not for another month. Can the team still develop into
"I don't know" Henry said. "The jury is still out"
If the team wants a positive verdict, it will need to
show a good deal of improvement over the next four
weeks in all events. In the sprinting events, the
Wolverines will need to build upon the solid showing
they turned in last week. Brandi Bentley, along with
Maria Brown, RegineCaruthers and Tamika Craig have
formed an effective relay team. Against a large, strong
field at last weekend's Texas Relays, the foursome fin-
ished in 12th place in the 4x400.
In distance events, the team is still trying to overcome
the loss of All-America ElizabethlKampfe, who is out
with a stress fracture, but some younger runners have.
shown a good deal of potential. Junior distance runner
Katie Clifford has had an excellent season, earning a pro-
visional NCAA qualifying time in the 3,000-meter run.
The Wolverines are very young in the field events.
Sophomore Erin Massengale and freshman April Phillips
could each lay claim to being the top thrower on the team.
Phillips owns the team's top shot put perforpance, while
Massengale has thrown the discus for a team-best dis-
"Where are we now?" Henry asked. "Nowhere'
The next four weeks will determine whether Michigan
can go anywhere this season.
ope springs eternal. Ernest
Lawrence Thayer wrote that
112 years ago - it's a line'
stands the test of
when can you
have hope if not
in spring? It'ss
the one time of
the year when
every team is in
first place, when KLEINBAUM
the Brewers Apocalypse
have just as ow
good of a
chance of reaching the World Series:
as the Braves do.
That's what makes spring great.
I'm about to embark on the spring of
my life, a new season, a new begin-
ning. In just over two weeks, I'll be a
college graduate, an aspiring sports:
writer with the entire season - my
entire career - in front of me.
So what does that make the last
four years? Spring training, of course
(only without the sunny Florida
If you've never been to Florida for-
spring training, you're missing out.
You've got the talent of the big
leagues, but in a relaxed, laid-back'-
atmosphere. It's one of the few times
in a season when everyone on the
field, and everyone in the stands,
looks like they're having fun. The
bottom line isn't winning, but work-
ing hard, honing your skills and
improving. Friendships are made that
will last the entire season.
The career minor leaguer stretches
next to the eight-time All Star.
Players jog across the outfield in the
middle of a game. All games are
played during the day, without the
nine-to-fiver heckling from the
bleachers. The crowds are small and,
for the most part, supportive.
Now, as I write my last article for
The Michigan Dail,anxious to take
my first Big League at bat, I can't
think of a better analogy for my four
I wandered into the Daily's offices
on Maynard Street as a freshman still
wet behind the ears. I figured writing
for the paper would be a good hobby,
something to kill the free time
between classes and homework. I
never expected it to become my life,
to replace classes and homework, as
it did on so many occasions.
The first story I ever wrote covered
a women's club rugby game. That's
right, rugby. Growing up in New
York, we didn't playgrugby. A serum
was nothing more than an abbreviat-
ed way of saying scrumptious. I
needed a hallmate of mine from
Australia to give me a quick lesson
on the sport before I trekked out to
Mitchell field. Needless to say, it
wasn't one of my better stories.
In the years since, I've improved.
I've covered more exciting sports
(not to belittle the wonderful women
of the women's rugby team, or their
sport). I've covered less exciting
sports (sorry, Brian Ellerbe, but I'd
take rugby over that 1998-99 basket-
I watched the women's basketball
team play in the NCAA tournament
in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and watched the
men's basketball team play in the
NCAA tournament from a sports bar
in that same city. Then, two years
later, I enraged that entire state in
this very space, something about hill-
billies, rednecks and toilet training. f
But for every hundred people lI've
enraged in my writing - I received
over 2,000 e-mails from the Alabama
faithful - I've made a great friend
here, one that will last a lifetime.
To those friends - you know who
you are - thank you for making
spring training the best it could be.
Without you, it would have just been
Spring term of my sophomore
year, I covered the Michigan baseball
team. Earlier this century, that same
team was coached by Branch Rickey,
one of the most brilliant baseball
minds ever. As general manager of
the St. Louis Cardinals, Rickey
invented modern-day spring training.
Everything comes full circle.
- Josh Kleinbaumr will miss filling
the Daily' Grind every two weeks. He
can be reached via e-mai at