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January 21, 2004 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-21

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 21, 2004

4

Exon, Tipirneni get
birthday serenading

Rubin family watches
son hit win milestone

By Waldemar Centeno
Daily Sports Writer
After an impressive team victory
over DePaul on Saturday, members
of the Michigan women's tennis
team exuberantly sang, "Happy
Birthday," across the court to team-
mates Elizabeth Exon and Kavitha
Tipirneni.
Exon, a freshman from Irvine,
Calif., celebrated her first birthday
away from home.
"It's not that bad being away from
home because I celebrated it while I
was home for break with all my
friends," Exon said.
"I got so many phone calls, so it
really isn't that bad."
Exon turned 19 years old on Jan.
17, the same day as the Wolverines'
first dual match of the season. She
entered the matchup as the second-
seeded singles player for Michigan
behind top-seeded junior Michelle
DaCosta, but suffered the Wolver-
ines' only singles loss against
DePaul.
"Liz is such a great competitor
and brings so much to our whole
program that it's unfortunate she
took a tough loss on her birthday,"
Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said.
"But in spite of that, we talked
about how Liz really is a winner
because when the team does well,
we all win. So I hope she puts this
loss behind her and has a really nice
birthday celebration."

Despite losing a singles match on
her birthday, Exon felt that the
team's victory was more important
than anything else.
"It's awesome that we pretty much
killed them," Exon said. "We just
have so much potential this year. I
think we are going to be really
good."
Tipirneni celebrated her 22nd
birthday this past Monday. But
rather than enjoying her birthday
with loved ones, the senior attended
practice, as usual, at the Varsity Ten-
nis Center.
"We were scheduled to have prac-
tice off on Monday, but we had to
change the schedule," Ritt said. "So I
feel like for Kavitha's birthday, I owe
her an extra day off along the way."
With an upcoming match against
Notre Dame on Jan. 29, the Wolver-
ines aren't too eager to take a day
off anytime soon.
"It's pretty exciting," Tipirneni
said. "I wish we were playing them
this week, but we have this weekend
off from any matches. Not only are
we playing them this early in the
season, we really are set for them.
It's always a big rivalry when we
play Notre Dame."
In dual-match play, the Irish have
beaten the Wolverines for five straight
years.
The Wolverines hope that with
some lasting birthday luck, they will
be able to pull off their second dual-
match win of the season.

By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan junior Mike Rubin will
walk into Sunday's men's tennis
matchup against Butler with his
racket, a pair of
tennis shoes and
50 career singles
victories - mak-
ing him second
on this season's
squad behind
senior Anthony
Jackson.
But Rubin Mike Rubin
doesn't count all
of those wins. In his eyes, he has
only amassed 39. He brought the
other 11 wins he brought with him
when he transferred from Washing-
ton after his freshman year. These
wins don't seem to mean anything
to Rubin since he became a Wolver-
ine.
"I only count what I do here at
Michigan," Rubin said. "This place
is a part of me. I'm happy to be here
and happy to be in this situation."
Creating a home at Michigan has
been made easier through the pres-
ence of teammate and younger
brother, freshman Carey Rubin.
After sitting out for a year due to
NCAA transfer rules, Mike made
his Wolverine debut alongside his
brother.
"Family is really important to
me," Mike said.

Despite the fact that Mike didn't
view hitting the milestone number
of wins as important, his parents
certainly had a different opinion.
After making the trip up from their
home in Canton, Ohio, the Rubins
sat with Carey and watched Mike
defeat DePaul's Mark Henderson for
win No. 50.
"My parents are, without a doubt,
my biggest fans," Mike said. "When
they're here, it's a good feeling. I
feel more confident."
The 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory certainly
wasn't his best performance, but his
team rallied behind him, putting up
six points en route to a 7-0 shutout
of DePaul.
"He wants to help the team, and
sometimes, he takes the weight of
the world on his shoulders," coach
Mark Mees said.
Personal wins aren't really the
point, though. Mike would rather
worry about the team.
"The bottom line is the W's and the
L's (for the team)," Mike said.
"Nobody knows how well you played,
nobody remembers the scores."
The matchup with Butler should
prove to be an exciting one all around.
Mike is pegged to take on Kevin Gill,
who is No. 19 in the region.
"We need to keep working hard,"
Jackson said. "We are expecting big
things this year."
The Wolverines blanked the Bull-
dogs, 7-0 when the teams got together
last season.

FILE PHOTO
Michigan freshman Elizabeth Exon celebrated her first birthday away from home,
but she wasn't alone. Her entire team got behind her to sing "Happy Birthday."

Bluenatics ready to go crazy for cagers

By Megan Kolodgy
Daily Sports Writer
Something had to be done.
One of Michigan women's basketball coach
Cheryl Burnett's primary goals when she rolled into
Ann Arbor was to build the type of fan base that
helped take her program at Southwest Missouri State
from relative obscurity to the Final Four.
Halfway through her first season here, attendance
is typically mediocre at best. The program has quite
a bit of rebuilding to do before it can focus on rally-
ing the troops to support the team's cause.
That's where the Bluenatics come in.
The Bluenatics, cousin of the men's team's
Maize Rage, is a group created by and made up
of, students. Its members are interested in
becoming spirited followers of a team in dire
need of some fans.
"A lot of kids and a lot of adults come to the
games, but probably only about 10 people who are
actually from the University come," said senior

Amy Lovrencic, co-founder of the Bluenatics.
The group finally got started at Michigan's
game against Indiana. It was a small beginning,
but the handful of students, clad in their signa-
ture blue shirts, made some substantial noise for
the Wolverines, who pulled out a close victory
that evening.
"The first game we came to, we got shirts from
(promotions director) Mark (Riordan)," Lovrencic
said. "He printed them up for free for us, which
was really nice. We just sat in front of the entrance,
and any student who came in, we had them sign up
and they got a free shirt. Then we put them on the
e-mail list, and we send them e-mails letting them
know what's going on.
"We've basically been giving out shirts to get peo-
ple to get our name out and get people to sign up."
It's amazing what a couple of free T-shirts can
do. Since that first evening, the number of Bluenat-
ics has grown to about 35.
This is not the first time that students have made
an effort to band together support for women's bas-

ketball at the University. In 2001, a group called
'M' Hoopla tried to garner support from the stu-
dent body. Unfortunately, this organization was
short-lived, and dissipated when most of its mem-
bers graduated.
There was one person, however, who did not
want to see a group with such potential die an
early death. Senior Sean Murphy and her room-
mate Heather White, both friends of Lovrencic,
remained at the University when the 'M' Hoopla
disbanded and was eager to get back to Crisler.
Lovrencic and White agreed to help Murphy start
up another group, and the Bluenatics were born.
This is just the type of support that Burnett has
been hoping for. And from all accounts, she appre-
ciates the efforts of these seniors.
"(Burnett) was very excited," Lovrencic said.
"She really wanted something like this, so she (has
been) very supportive and helpful."
The Bluenatics intend to come to the remainder
of Michigan's home games this season. They are
still giving away free T-shirts.

4

Cheryl Burnett and the Michigan women's basketball team hope the Bluenatics can
bring a little more fan excitement to Crisler Arena to support the team.

U

I

Congratulations
to the following outstanding
University of Michigan students
accepted into Teach For America.

Tney've snown they nave the leadersnip

and

commitment needed to tackle one of

our nation's most challenging

problems.

You can still apply!
Final Application Deadline: February 15
www.teachforamerica.org

m

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