12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 5, 2004
By Gennaro Flc.
Daily Sports Editor
February is the most trying time of
the school year for most Michigan
students. The sky is regularly over-
cast, beautiful holiday snow turns to
mud-ridden, salt-saturated sludge and
temperatures frequently hit the single
digits. Some students crack from the
burning winds; others lose it after
their first black ice experience. The
Michigan winter breaks down many
Ann Arborites, but at least one
undergraduate seems to take the
month in stride.
Michigan forward Jason Ryznar -
an Anchorage, Alaska, native - is
well-versed in harsh winter conditions.
"He's a guy around here that doesn't
wear a coat in all this stuff," said sen-
ior captain Andy Burnes, who lives
Ryznar returns to his home state this
week as the Wolverines (13-4-1
CCHA, 18-7-1 overall) take on Alas-
ka-Fairbanks in a two-game series.
"He'll be back in his element this
weekend, and I know he's looking for-
ward to it," Burnes said. "We can
probably expect to see some of Jason's
best hockey because he's been looking
forward to this weekend all year."
Growing.up in Alaska, Ryznar faced
cold winters with extremely limited
"November through January it's
pretty dark," Ryznar said. "There's
only about four hours of light (per
day), so it's very depressing growing
Even though these winters were
exceptionally gloomy, Ryznar said that
he embraced the outdoors and tried to
spend as much time outside of his
house as he could.
"(During the winter) you just play
hockey," Ryznar said. "Hockey's huge
in Anchorage. I guess anything out-
doors - snowmobiling, skiing, snow-
boarding. You just try to get out and do
stuff. You go nuts if you sit in your
house all the time. It's crazy."
Ryznar looks forward to returning
home for the first time since the sum-
mer and is scrambling to accommo-
date the 10 to 12 family members and
friends who will make the trek -
seven hours by car - from Anchorage
"He's been snagging up everybody's
tickets," Burnes said. "(He's) getting
all of his relatives up there."
Burnes and all of the team's jun-
iors made the trip to Fairbanks two
"It's always fun," Burnes said. "You
go on a road trip with 22 of your best
But, as evidenced by the Wolver-
ines sweep of the Nanooks in 2001,
the excursion is always business-first.
While Alaska-Fairbanks is just 11-10-
1 CCHA (12-13-1 overall), the
Nanooks hold a 10-2 mark at home.
"It's tough up there," alternate cap-
tain Eric Nystrom said. "It's a long
trip, and they're a good team and
they can grind you down. If you're
not ready to play, they'll whip you
"We're on a bit of a roll. We've
won some home games. Everybody
can win at home. It's when you go on
the road, you see what type of team
you really are. So it's going to be a
The Wolverines left yesterday and
will return on Sunday. Players say the
five-day escapade is a great bonding
experience, and everyone cherishes
their time outside of the continental
United States, especially Ryznar.
"He's going to be a little bit more
cheery," alternate captain Brandon
Rogers said of his housemate. "He's
already a happy kid, but he gets a little
happier once he gets home, gets back
with his people."
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Doubles point imperative for Blue
By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer
Every match for the Michigan men's tennis team during the dual match sea-
son opens with a doubles competition. Up for grabs is one point, seemingly
insignificant, but that one point can set the tone for the rest of the match.
"When you play an eight-game pro set, you don't really have a chance to
feel your way into a match," Michigan coach Mark Mees said. "If you get
behind, it could be lights out before you get it going."
A team faces the daunting task of winning four-of-six singles matches if
it fails to secure that crucial doubles point. Three doubles matches are
played and whatever team wins at least two of three matches earns the
vaunted point. During the 2002-03 campaign, Michigan went 5-10 in
matches where it dropped the doubles point.
"It's nicer to be up 1-0 than behind 0-1," freshman Steve Peretz said. "It's
still a task (to win), but its much more doable."
Michigan's 6-1 win over No. 33 Wake Forest last weekend is a perfect
example of the value of a doubles point. After taking the doubles point and
the first two singles points, Michigan was up 3-0 when junior Mike Rubin
dropped his match and the remaining three players were struggling into tie-
breaker sets. It looked as though Michigan would be lucky to squeeze by
with a win. But thanks to momentum from the doubles point, that close
match turned into a 6-1 victory.
"It's fun (winning a doubles match)," junior Vinny Gossain said. "We got
the crowd into it, and we got each other into it."
With the doubles point having such great ability to swing a team's
momentum, the Wolverines have worked hard to solidify all three doubles
pairs. Coming into the dual match season, Michigan had two strong doubles
teams established, leaving the only question as to who would make up the
The strategy for choosing pairs isn't something one can find in a book.
Aside from personalities and different skills, there are two different styles of
doubles players: The natural doubles player, who boasts good hands and
strong instincts, and the singles player, whose all-around skills translate into
"There are some different ways to put together a team," Mees said. "A lot
of times you have to be creative about that."
Mees' third doubles pair, filled out by Gossain and Peretz, features both
types of doubles player. Gossain, who needs one more win for twenty dou-
bles victories on his career, is a natural doubles player with good hands and
instincts on the court. Originally paired with junior Josef Fischer for the
dual match season, Gossain showed a tendency to let his serve fall apart.
After two less-than-stellar matches with Fischer, Gossain received a new
partner in Peretz.
"Vinny is a pretty natural doubles player," assistant coach Dan Goldberg
said. "He has great doubles instincts."
Peretz is a talented singles player who is still learning the intricacies of
doubles play. His solid serve and competitive nature makes him a good pick
to take the court with Gossain. Peretz said he watches the seasoned Gossain
to learn how to successfully master doubles.
"He's pretty savvy," Gossain said. "He doesn't need to much help from
me. He is beyond his years mentally."
Putting the pair together made sense on the court, and their off-the-court
friendship made the transition easy. Since replacing Fischer, Peretz has
gelled with Gossain, and the duo has gone 2-0.
"We are pretty good friends. I think that is a strength of the team in gener-
al," Peretz said. "We all want to see each other win."
When engaging opponents, doubles pairs convey their strategy seconds
before a serve through a series of hand signals. Good communication between
members of a pair is crucial to covering the court in an efficient manner. Once
a point is over, the pairs discuss their strategy before the next serve.
"A lot of the success in doubles comes from familiarity," Goldberg said.
"The more matches they play (together), they'll continue to get better as a
As the season rolls closer to the Big Ten portion of the schedule, the value
of consistently putting up the doubles points grow.
A team with three solid doubles teams can be a daunting task for
Michigan freshman Steve Peretz has gone 2-0 with his
new doubles partner, Vinny Gossain.