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March 04, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-04

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - 9A

Tumblers driven
by reunited pair
By Jeremy Antar
Daily Sports Writer
For anyone who is serious about competing in collegiate
gymnastics, experience on a high school gymnastics team is
of minimal importance.
Throughout the country, elite gymnasts compete on
club teams, often beginning at a very young age. This is
due to the fact that many high schools do not even have
a gymnastics program. The few that do are not of the
same caliber as the club teams. Most of the college
recruiting that occurs takes place through the club
teams.
'Sophomore Becca Clauson began going to TAGS Gym-
nastics Club in Minnesota when she was two years old.
Throughout middle school and high school, Clauson dedi-
cated much of her time to gymnastics, traveling straight
from school to the club for about four-and-a-half hours of
practice for five days a week. Freshman Carol McNamara
joined Clauson at TAGS Gymnastics Club when she moved
to Minnesota in eighth grade and the girls quickly became
friends.
The duo remained close and competed together until
Clauson graduated in 2002 and moved on to Michigan. But
the friendship was soon rekindled when McNamara decided
to become a Wolverine just one year later.
Although Clauson and McNamara enjoyed being on the
same club team, both said that the experience was quite dif-
ferent than competing at Michigan.
"When you're in club (gymnastics), you're on your own
and you don't focus as much on team," Clauson said. "But
once you get here, you want your teammates to do well and
you get more excited for them.
"There's a little more pressure because you're not just
performing for yourself, so a mistake would be a mistake
for the team and not just for you," McNamara said.
McNamara added that this works both ways because
success as well as failure is shared by teammates.

Nolan captures milestone win

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
"Play to win."
Senior Chrissie Nolan of the Michi-
gan woman's tennis team has certainly
lived up to her personal motto.
The fourth-year veteran picked up a
milestone 70th career singles victory as
a Wolverine over Spring Break, defeat-
ing Sandra Rocha of Long Beach State
in straight sets. Nolan then went on to
capture her 71st career win against
Hawaii's Kimberly Curtis (6-4, 6-0).
This most recent win allowed Nolan to
move up in Michigan's career victories
list. Nolan now sits in ninth, tied with
Tina Basle (1985-88).
"(The win) is not the most significant
thing to me because I'm on a team,"
Nolan said. "I just want to play my best
because we are doing so well. That's
more important to me."
Aside from her on-court success,
Nolan received the Academic All-Big
Ten award in both her sophomore and
junior years at Michigan. As a student
in the Business School, Nolan has
had to balance a demanding course
load with her tennis career.
Adding to the list of her achieve-
ments, Nolan has also received praise for
her character on and off the court. She
was a recipient of the United States Ten-
nis Association Sportsmanship Award
the summer after her freshman year.
"I've always wanted to be a fair
player," Nolan said. "I want to win the
right way."
Coach Bitsy Ritt even said that
Nolan has been teased for being

"almost too fair", as she has had the
tendency to play balls that have been hit
out. Ritt believes Nolan has improved
in this area as well.
Ritt acknowledged that Nolan has
become much more vocal at team
meetings. She said that Nolan is
often the voice of reason among the
players.
Holding a 14-7 singles record this
season, Nolan explained that staying
healthy and playing consistent have
been the key to her accumulating so
many wins.
"(Nolan) has the ability to exploit her
opponents' weaknesses," Ritt said.
"One of her strengths is just her strong
desire to win."
Nolan explained that she has
become stronger, physically, and
increased her speed on the court. Ritt
agreed, saying that she has noticed a
significant improvement in Nolan's
conditioning.
Nowadays, Nolan is known for her
strong baseline game, but she explained
that her skills at the net have gradually
improved throughout her career at
Michigan.
"I used to be so intimidated up at the
net," Nolan said. "Now, I'm more of an
all-court player."
Nolan provides her team with strong
senior leadership.
"Players feel comfortable going to
(Nolan) individually to talk with her,"
Ritt said. "She's also somebody you
could look to during the heat of battle
to come through under pressure."
If earning her milestone victory was-
n't enough, this season, Nolan has had

already led a currently undefeated, No,
19 Michigan team in upset wins over
both Notre Dame and Tennessee.
"(Nolan) may not overpower players,
but she is a great baseliner, who could
put a million balls in the court," Ritt
said. "She deserves all the recognition
she's getting."

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Sophomore Becca Clauson has the chance to compete for
the Wolverines with lifelong friend Carol McNamara,
When asked why she decided to attend Michigan,
Clauson referenced a Michigan vs. Minnesota meet she
attended at the age of 12. The Wolverines won the meet,
and from that day forward, Clauson had an inclination
toward Michigan. But both Clauson and McNamara said
that they knew for certain that Michigan was the school
for them after visiting the University and spending time
with the team.
"When I came here, I just felt so comfortable with the
team and I loved the coaches," McNamara said.
Clauson noted that, in addition to sharing success and
cheering for teammates at meets, coming to practice every
day is easier in college than it was on the club team.
"Even though you have a team, you're competitive against
each of the members on the team (in club competition),"
Clauson said. "But here it's just all team first, which makes
it so much more fun to come to practice."

Senior Chrissie Nolan has grown as a
leader and player at Michigan.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
BIOLOGICAL STATION
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0 MEN'S TENNIS
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By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer

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Only one player on the Michigan men's tennis team
remains undefeated in the singles portion of the dual
match season. It's not a name that most would expect.
It's not senior Anthony Jackson or junior Michael
Rubin. Even junior Vinny Gossain and freshman
Steve Peretz have blemishes on their records. The last
player with a clean record is freshman Ryan Heller.
Heller has quietly amassed an 8-0 record during the
dual season after a less-than-desirable performance
during the fall season, when he registered an 8-6 tally.
"I've finally found the groove," Heller said. "(In)
the fall (I) was a little off."
While Heller hasn't been drawing the headlines
from his No. 4 singles spot, he has been flashing
some of the team's most exciting tennis. Any crowd
that amasses above his corner of the Varsity Tennis
Center is guaranteed a good show.
"When he's hitting his shots, he's going to be tough
to deal with," Michigan coach Mark Mees said.

Leller striving
Coming to Michigan after four-straight MVP
seasons in the No. 1 singles spot at Glenbrook
North High School in Northbrook, Ill., Heller
could have arrived on campus with a big ego. But
for Heller, being a key part of the Wolverines'
team has been more important than anything he
accomplished before coming to Ann Arbor.
"Ryan is a great kid and a team player," assistant
coach Dan Goldberg said. "He fit in really well (on
the team) right from the get-go."
Thanks to a big serve and powerful forehand,
Heller finds himself on the No. 2 doubles team,
alongside Rubin.
The pair is 5-3 on the dual match season, and play-
ing with Rubin has been a good learning experience
for the first-year player.
"(I've learned a lot about) the leadership role,"
Heller said. "(Mike's) always on top of his game and
works really hard."
Heller tries to learn from his more experienced
partner, and Rubin says that he has been feeding off
Heller's confidence.

for perfection
"He's not cocky or anything," Rubin said. "He just
goes out there and knows he can get it done"
Three of Heller's singles victories have come off of
tie-break sets. He doesn't let up in those third sets
when the game's on the line, outscoring his opponents
6-3 on each occasion.
It's no coincidence that Heller can turn it on in the
third set and wow the crowd. Mees attributes it to his
"linebacker mentality." Sophomore Carey Rubin
describes it as more of a "bulldog attitude." Either
way, his tenacious style of play has benefited him late
in matches.
"I like to be under pressure and come up with a big
shot," Heller said.
While his record shows perfect consistency, his
game is still being refined. With more experience
against the country's best college players, Heller could
develop into a top national player.
"He's got to keep working on the consistency part
of it so his level of play is more balanced, so he does-
n't have the valleys, because his peaks can be pretty
scary," Mees said.

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