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April 05, 2004 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-05

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 5, 2004 - 3B

M' loses
nai-b iter
at the end
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
On the court, the level of emotion
was apparent. Every few seconds, a
shout of triumph or frustration could be
heard emanating from some corner of
the Varsity Tennis Center. Even the fans
got into the act. There were spontaneous
cries of support r~w ju
and even a "Let's
Go Blue" chant
from the Michigan MINNESOTA 4
faithful. But it wasMiGAN 3
not meant to be for
the Michigan men's tennis team on Sat-
urday. The Wolverines fell 4-3 to Min-
nesota. They rebounded nicely
yesterday with a 7-0 sweep of Iowa.
"(The loss to Minnesota) was a great
college tennis match," Michigan coach
Mark Mees said. "You had five hours
and everybody was busting it and going
after it."
With the teams locked up at three, all
eyes turned to the heated battle between
Michigan's No. 49 Michael Rubin and
Minnesota's No. 53 Chris Wettengel.
The match was as tight as the rankings
indicated, with Wettengel taking the first
set 6-3 and Rubin responding with a 7-5
second-set win. The final set was one
for the ages, with the athletes' contrast-
ing demeanors adding to the excitement.
Beginning and ending each point with
a loud, and often bizarre, set of spoken
phrases, Wettengel's antics brought
occasional laughter from spectators.
Meanwhile, Rubin was the definition of
cool, showing little reaction to even the
most significant points. The two were
knotted at four games each when Wet-
tengel finally broke through, winning
the last two games and earning Min-
nesota the thrilling comeback victory.
"We were the better team," Michigan
junior Josef Fischer said. "We really
should have pulled it out."
The intensity of Saturday's contest
was obvious right from the get-go, as
the No. 48th Wolverines and the No. 43
Golden Gophers split the first two dou-
bles matches. With the doubles point on
the line, Rubin teamed with freshman
Ryan Heller to take on Minnesota's
Avery Ticer and Dusan Tabak. After
trading games all match long, the
Gophers earned a key break to go up 8-
7. But Tabak tightened up on match
point, double-faulted and eventually
allowed Michigan to force a tiebreak.

Road-trippin' in a New York minute

NW YORK - It began as a weekly walk to see my new
best friend Mitch last Monday night. It ended Thursday
night as I cruised through New Jersey in a white Chevy
Impala singing "We are the Champions" with three friends.
Writing this column Friday night, safely back in Ann Arbor, I
don't think I'll ever fully understand how I ended up in Manhat-
tan for those three fateful days. The investigation begins last
Monday night at 11 p.m.
MONDAY, 11 P.M.: I call my
friend Seth, a first-year Michigan
grad who works in New York, to
tell him that there's no way I can
make the trip to New York this
MONDAY, 11:10 P.M.: Seth fin-
ishes spitting fire through my cell. J. BRADY
DUDE, you HAVE to come. Brady, MCCOLLOUGH
you are a senior This is your last The SportsMonday
chance to do things like this. Your Column
classes do not matter There should
be a commercial campaign about saying "No" to guys like
Seth. Suddenly, the adrenaline rush takes over. I start to think
about my last three weeks of college passing me by while I do
nothing but procrastinate and improve my relationship with
Mitch. Big Apple, here I come.
MONDAY, 11:30 P.M.: Oh, Claire. Blinded by her "Jersey
pride," my friend Claire tells me while we're hanging out with
Mitch that she will be pulling for Rutgers in the NIT over
Michigan because her state loyalty supersedes that of her future
alma mater.
TUESDAY, 7 A.M.: And we're off! After running the gauntlet
of "should I really be doing this?" questions, I go right to sleep
in the backseat with visions of NIT banners and those huge
New York pizza slices dancing in my head.
TUESDAY, 10 A.M.: If you are awake at this hour, you have a
responsibility to get McDonald's breakfast. Is it a coincidence
that McDonald's employees in eastern Ohio are wearing maize
and blue? We'll find out.
TUESDAY, 9:30 P.M.: Thank you to the Iowa State pep band.
After losing their overtime game to Rutgers, the Cyclone faith-
ful swirled out of Madison Square Garden. My friends and I
take advantage and are now sitting two rows back at the Gar-
den. I gush over seeing Air Georgia take off 10 feet away.
TUESDAY, 9:35 P.M.: Where are all the current Michigan stu-
dents? Most of the Michigan fans are from the New York area.
Are my friends and I the only ones down for the cause?
TUESDAY, 9:40 P.M.: Did someone from the athletic depart-
ment hook Tommy up with the guys from "Queer Eye" before
the game? I perform the traditional T.A. wardrobe check to see
that he has dropped the polo shirt and gone with the mock
turtleneck and blazer. For the first time in a decade, Michigan
fans everywhere can thank the "Fab Five"
TUESDAY, 10 P.M.: It becomes very obvious early in the
game that the Oregon starting five has more business playing
with Michigan at Hash Bash than in the Garden.
TUESDAY, 10:15 P.M.: Luke Jackson might beat Michigan
alone. That is, until I join in a "Luke Jackson sucks!" chant
with these guys who are enjoying the Garden's $6 beers. We
were clearly in the second-team All-American's head.
TUESDAY, 11 P.M.: The Garden didn't become the greatest
place to watch a basketball game in the world without knowing
a good thing when it sees it. The Oregon cheerleaders - hot
hot hot - brought the 10,000 strong to their feet while shaking
it to Usher's "Yay-uh!" As they walked past the Michigan con-
tingency - including the Michigan cheerleaders nearby -
they stopped for pictures with numerous Michigan kids. It
reminded me of when I got my picture taken with my waitress
at Hooters in seventh grade.
TUESDAY, 11:15 P.M.: I remember the feeling of walking

down the Eugene, Ore., main drag after Michigan lost in foot-
ball and take some satisfaction in ending their basketball sea-
son. But I still love Autzen Stadium and everything about those
crazy Ducks.
TUESDAY, 11:20 P.M.: Who would have thought that there
would ever be chants of "Dani Wahl!" and "Amadou Ba!" in
the Garden? Man, I love this team.
WEDNESDAY, 4 P.M.: My friend Pete, a native of the Upper
East Side, can't believe I'm dragging him to Times Square.
Excuse me, but where else can you spend an hour in a Toys "R"
Us and be totally entertained?
WEDNESDAY, 7 P.M.: At dinner with some city-dwelling
friends of my friends, we try to explain the significance of this
whole basketball tournament thing we're in town for. When
we're finished, the young lady across from me asks "So, this is
the last game of the NCAAs?" Before we can tell her "Yes,
exactly," her boyfriend explains to her that as far as college bas-
ketball is concerned, this is like the Junior Olympics. Ouch!
WEDNESDAY, 11 P.M.: The picture of why I am in Manhattan
is becoming clearer. Ken, a fellow senior, joins us at a bar near
NYU after taking an 8:30 flight out of Detroit. Talk about devo-
tion to your team - or refusing to let the last moments of col-
lege slip by without a fight.
THURSDAY, 7:20 P.M.: No. 1 from Rutgers looks like Emeka
Okafor, sending back everything our big men attempt. This old
Rutgers fan behind me starts yelling, "Welcome to the Big
East! You can't go inside against us!"
THURSDAY, 8:30 P.M.: I sit in silence as the Red Sea in the
Garden has taken over. I would yell, but there's nothing to yell
about. Michigan looks scared and the Rutgers faithful have
turned this into a road game. I'm dreading another quiet and
depressing ride home to Ann Arbor and immediately start
blaming the officiating. Who else, right?
PRETTY (imagine Larry David's voice and inflection) good at
basketball. I look over to my persuasive friend Seth and yell "I
can taste it, baby!" He responds like only Seth can, "As soon as
it hits your lips!!!" I'm sure Frank the Tank from "Old School"
loves the NIT, too.
THURSDAY, 9 P.M.: I love holding onto comments from
opposing fans early in the game as ammo for later. With the
game well in hand, I turn to the Rutgers fans and yell "Wel-
come to the Big East!" a few times. Some old guy responds,
"Where's Connecticut?" The "good by association" argument
has always been one of my favorites.
THURSDAY, 9:15 P.M.: I'm beginning to think that there is a
split national championship, a la college football. I rush down
to the court level so that I can watch our feisty little Wolverines
cut down the nets on the biggest stage. I'm swelling with pride,
until B-Rob nearly falls off the ladder on his way up. We love
you, B-Rob.
FRIDAY, 1 A.M.: On the road back to Ann Arbor, I've got one
special call to make as I drive through the armpit of the world
that is New Jersey. Claire doesn't pick up her phone, but my
friends and I call her a turkey for pulling for Rutgers and actu-
ally gobble incessantly into the speaker for 30 seconds.
Sorry. You probably had to be there.
FRIDAY, 3 P.m.: Time to check my e-mail after my excursion.
Here goes ... the reminders have poured in, of course. Statistics
exam coming up on Thursday - OK, I can handle that. Sociol-
ogy paper due on Thursday - this is really going to hurt the
chances of hanging out with Mitch on Wednesday. The nerve.
Two years ago, I would be freaking out, but priorities have a
funny way of changing in your last month as a senior.
Here's to friends, last-gasp adventures and national champi-
J Brady McCollough can be reached at bradymcc@umich.edu.

Junior Michael Rubin lost a tight match to Minnesota's Chris Wettengel 6-3, 7-5, 6-
4 on Saturday, but beat Iowa's Sebastian Gonzales 6-3, 6-3 yesterday.

The tiebreak proved to be a nail-biter,
with neither team able to put together a
string of points. Finally, Minnesota
cracked, as Tabak's shot into the net
sealed Michigan's 9-8 (8) victory.
With the doubles point in the bag,
the Wolverines kept on cruising - or
so it seemed. They locked up two of the
first three singles matches, with senior
Anthony Jackson (6-4, 6-1) and junior
David Anving (6-4, 1-6, 7-5) coming
out on top. The strong performance
early on meant that Michigan needed to
win just one of the last three singles
matches to close out the Gophers.
"It was there for the taking," junior
Vinny Gossain said.
Hampered by a rotator cuff injury,
freshman Steve Peretz could not capi-
talize on his first-set victory, falling 6-
4, 4-6, 0-6. Fellow freshman Brian
Hung had a chance to seal the match
during his second-set tiebreaker, but

fell short (6-2, 6-7(3), 4-6), setting up
the epic Rubin-Wettengel match.
Despite the eventual outcome, Mees
felt that Michigan's effort left nothing to
be desired.
"When the guys lay it all on the line
and leave it out on the court and do
everything that they can do to win, I'll
never be upset," Mees said. "And I'm
not upset. Each guy who played out
there put in a good effort, but we came
up a little short."
The Wolverines showed no ill effects
from Saturday's heartbreaking loss yes-
terday, as they burst out of the gate
against Iowa and never looked back.
They won all of their matches in
straight sets, finishing off the
Hawkeyes in less than three hours.
"We were a little bit more even-
keeled than we were yesterday," Fischer
said. "Today we were just trying to take
care of business."

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