10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 3, 2005
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
When people think about gymnastics, a few names
come to mind. One of those names is Dominique
Moceanu, a popular member of the 1996 United States
Olympic gold medal team. Moceanu will be one of five
Olympians in attendance Friday at Crisler Arena when
the No. 2 Wolverines face No. 3 UCLA.
Michigan's lone Olympian and captain of the 2000
U.S. squad, senior Elise Ray, is looking forward to the
rare opportunity to catch up with old friends. Kristen
Maloney and Tasha Shwikert of the 2000 U.S. Olympic
team, Kate Richardson of the 2000 and 2004 Canadian
Olympic teams are all members of the UCLA squad,
and Moceanu will be there to cheer them all on.
"I'm really looking forward to (Friday's meet)", Ray
said. "It's always fun to be reunited with Kristen and
the other girls. I'm really looking forward to catching
up a little bit and having a good time. Maloney and I
were real close throughout the years and even over in
Sydney. So I'm really looking forward to seeing her."
The night won't be all fun and games. UCLA should
prove to be tough competition with its three Olympi-
ans, including Maloney - who is currently No. 1 in the
nation in the all-around.
"They always have such classy gymnastics," Ray
said. "They're always fun to watch, and it's very cre-
Despite injury, he.
Rais-es his sights
Senior Elise Ray will meet up with four other Olympians on Friday night.
ative. Their choreography is amazing because (UCLA
coach Valorie Kondos) is awesome. She's a great cho-
reographer. And they do it at a very high level too, so
it's very impressive to see."
Plocki noted that, though UCLA has been suffering
from some injuries recently, it will be a tough team to
beat, and Michigan will have to be the best it's been
After suffering a tight loss to No. 1 Utah last
weekend, the Wolverines have focused on the little
deductions that separated them from the Utes the
last time out.
"We're concentrating on fine details - form, stuck
landings and the smaller deductions that can add up in
the long-run - because, knock on wood, we've been
pretty consistent so far," Ray said. "The difference
between the better teams is going to be just the smaller
A step on a landing may not be a small detail. It's
M MENS TENNIS
With Maravic, netters have
By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
When new classes of athletes come
into programs, growing pains are more
than expected. Adjustments have to be
made, and few freshmen have the expe-
rience to step right into a team and con-
tribute right away.
When the Michigan men's tennis
team lost Anthony Jackson to gradua-
tion last year, an obvious void was left to
fill. But when freshman Matko Maravic
stepped onto a court donning the Maize
and Blue for the first time last fall, it was
obvious Michigan's rebuilding period
wouldn't just be shorter than usual - it
would be nonexistent.
Maravic jumpstarted his collegiate
career by winning a three-set thriller
over Ohio State's Scott Green at the
Wolverine Invitational, and has yet to
slow down this season.
Inexperience has never been a fac-
tor for Maravic. By the time he came to
Michigan, the Croatian native had more
experience than half of the team. Along
with his 2000 Croatia Singles champi-
onship, Maravic also had a high school
state title from the state of Michigan
under his belt.
Representing East Grand Rapids in
2003, he took the state by storm, going
undefeated en route to a Division III
state championship. After a year back in
Croatia attending V. Gimnazija, where
he'd go to college was an easy decision.
"I chose Michigan because of the fact
that I went to (East Grand Rapids) for a
year and most of my friends from there
were coming here," Maravic said.
Although Maravic was experienced
by the time he reached Ann Arbor, the
collegiate game and environment was
still different from anything he had
seen before. While playing high school
tennis, he only participated in singles.
Although he did participate in a few
doubles events overseas - he won the
ITF Mamaia-Sen doubles champion-
ships in 2001 - the majority of his play
still consisted of predominantly singles
action before coming to Michigan.
"I did play some doubles before, but
not as much as here," Maravic said.
"Playing doubles has improved my vol-
The biggest obstacle f
this year hasn't had anythin
styles of play or level ofc
Differences in dual-match f
proved to be the most foreig
"I was not used to playin
before," Maravic said. "I h
vidual coach back in Croati
had anyone else on the cour
Maravic's ability to
trumped any negatives that
his way. He was the lone
to win both of his singlesa
matches in the opening twoc
season, and he holds a 2-1 re
spots. His volleys have been
throughout the season to
more all-around game, but N
feels the real strength of hi
"I would say my serve i
gest part of my game," Mara
allows me to get free point
the court for an easy second
Maravic is not the lone
this year's freshman class..
has seen limited action fort
the last thing the judges see in a routine. A stuck land-
ing is the last opportunity a gymnast has to impress the
judges. Every time a gymnast takes a step on a landing,
it costs her one tenth of a point. Michigan lost to Utah
by three tenths of a point.
"I think the improvement I'd like to see across the
board on our team is to decrease the amount of deduc-
tions that we've been taking on our landings," Plocki
said. "And I think that everyone on this team has done a
great job up to this point, and our consistency has been
very good. Now, if we can fix more dismounts, we hope
to be able to break into the 197 (point-range)."
Plocki hopes Moceanu's promotional appearance
and the quality of the competition will encourage fans
to come to the event.
"For my team, the bigger the crowd, the more they
love it," Plocki said. "We're excited. There was a great
showing of U of M students at our last meet; and we
hope they all come back and bring three friends."
n't lost a step
ines, posting a 1-1 record in the fall.
or Maravic The Wolverines graduate four seniors
g to do with this year, so Cariello's time is sure to
competition. increase soon. The graduation of four
o rmats have players - almost half of the team -
n to him. also gives first-year coach Bruce Ber-
g on a team que the opportunity to recruit heavily
ad my indi- and bring in a strong group for his first
a and rarely recruiting class. The team has already
t." signed three players for the upcoming
adapt has season - Peter Aarts, Scott Bruckmann
have come and Andrew Mazlin - and hopes to sign
Wolverine one more during the spring.
and doubles "Our recruiting went very well,"
duals of the Berque said. "All three of them are big
cord in both athletic guys who have a lot of room for
developing development. When you're looking at
give him a college players, in addition to looking at
Maravic still their character and what type of students
s game lies they are, you're looking for guys who
have a lot of potential for improvement
s my stron- and playing a big game. I believe all
avic said. "It three of those guys have that potential."
ts and open With the impact Maravic has had
shots." already for the Wolverines, and the
member of potential of others coming into the pro-
Joe Cariello gram, the future looks bright for the
the Wolver- Michigan tennis squad.
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
After starting the men's gymnastics sea-
son with solid performances at the Windy
City Invitational and a dual meet against
Iowa two weeks ago, freshman Daniel Rais's
season took an unfortunate twist when he
missed a landing on the vault. Instead of
taking Oklahoma and the Winter Cup by
storm, Rais has spent the better part of the
last two weeks in the training room, icing a
severe high ankle sprain.
Rais has always been confident in his
abilities on the vault - an event that he
considered his best before coming to Michi-
gan. His fall came during a practice after
the Iowa meet. "I landed wrong on vault,
totally wrong, and just rolled it," Rais said.
"My Achilles is pretty tender, and the upper
part of my ankle is pretty sore. It's an upper
sprain, so it takes longer to heal. It's the
worst type of sprain. It's still hurting pretty
While he won't be competing in this
weekend's Winter Cup in Las Vegas, Rais
is hoping to be back in action at Minnesota
on February 12.
"There are days where it feels really good
and days where it feels really bad," Rais
said. "I'm just hoping it begins to progress.
It doesn't heal as fast as I had hoped."
In the meantime, Rais is hoping to
continue improving in the floor exercise
- which he won during the meet against
Iowa. Since coming to Michigan, Rais
believes that he has dramatically improved
in the floor exercise.
"My favorite event is the floor," Rais said.
"This year, it has gotten better, so I think
it is my best event now. Vault was my best
event for the past two years."
Rais began his career as a gymnast at an
early age, when his parents started taking
him to lessons. Though he played baseball
and basketball, gymnastics was always his
"My parents put me in when I was four
because I was active and liked to climb on
things," Rais said. "I was at one gym in the
beginning where I wasn't getting coached.
I went to a different gym, and that's where
I got better, and it was definitely the right
decision for me to keep going because I'm
here at Michigan."
Arriving at Michigan was a dream come
true for Rais, who had wanted to come here
for many years. When he was six years old,
he began participating in a youth meet that
took place before a Michigan varsity meet.
Having a chance to watch the Wolverines in
action left Rais dreaming of one day wear-
ing the Michigan uniform.
Now that he has reached Michigan, Rais
has his eyes set on making it into the nation-
al spotlight. Rais hopes to achieve All-
America status on either the floor or vault
this year and hopes to expand his repertoire
in the coming seasons.
"I was hoping this year to try and get (All-
America)," Rais said. "It's really hard, and
I have to work really hard to get it. For the
next few years, I want to compete in more
events, maybe the all-around."
Even his injuries haven't dampened
Rais's hopes of a high finish at the national
"It hasn't really affected my goals yet
because I don't know how long I am going
to be out," Rais said. "I'm hoping to be back
next week for the next meet. It all depends
how I feel next week."
Freshman David Rais will be back in action for this weekend's Winter Cup.