10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 16, 2005
By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
I see skies of blue and clouds of
The bright-blessed day, the dark
say good night,
And I think to myself, what a won-
Aside from Elise Ray's shoulder
problems and the troubles with land-
ings and dismounts at the beginning of
the year, the Michigan women's gym-
nastics team had very little to worry
about during the 2005 season.
But what happened on Friday night
in Athens, Ga. was much worse than
any injury or technical flaw. The Wol-
verines lost confidence in themselves.
"(The team) got nervous - they
started questioning," Michigan coach
Bev Plocki said. "In our sport, if you
start to question your ability to do
something, all kinds of bad things are
going to happen."
For Michigan, the bad things were
falls and low scores, and, when the
night came to an end, the Wolverines
were in a position they were unfamiliar
with - the receiving end of a 197.00-
194.875 domination by Georgia.
And unlike most other sports, gym-
nastics coaches do not have the luxu-
ry of a timeout to rally their players
or draw up plays. When a gymnast
begins to doubt herself going into an
event, there isn't much a coach can do
to help her.
But the Wolverines aren't going to
dwell on the past - not with a signifi-
cant meet against Michigan State and
the Big Ten Championships looming.
During Monday's practice, Plocki sat
her team down and talked about the
Roster change up benefits.
freshman Maravic, Netters
By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
Coming off a two-game losing streak during its spring break
trip to California, the No. 43 Michigan men's tennis team was
in need of a quick turnaround. Last weekend, a game of musi-
cal chairs was just the recipe Michigan needed to shake things
up. And freshman phenom Matko Maravic proved to be the
icing on the cake.
The rising star made his debut at the No. 1 singles position,
one of several lineup changes made by coach Bruce Berque
last weekend. Michigan capitalized on its double-header Sun-
day at the Varsity Tennis Center, picking up two wins against
Butler and Indiana State and improving its record to 9-4 (2-0
After beginning the dual-match season at the No. 4 singles
position, Maravic quickly moved his way up to the No. 2 slot
and stayed there until Sunday.
"We looked at the same stuff that goes into the decisions
about the lineup each match," Berque said. "Basically, (the No.
1 position goes to) who we feel is playing the best tennis at the
time and at the highest level. It wasn't a question that (Rubin)
wasn't doing those things, but Matko has been improving, and
we felt he was deserving of that opportunity."
Maravic proved to be very comfortable playing at the No. 1
position, giving a flawless performance on Sunday.
"I was kind of surprised to get that opportunity, and I was
really happy I was able to win in both matches," Maravic said.
"It's a privilege to play No. 1."
Against Butler, in the first match of the double-header,
Maravic dominated his opponent, 6-0, 6-3. But in the Indiana
State match, Maravic had a little trouble putting away Anton
Tsymbalov. After taking the first set, Maravic suffered, what
he viewed to be, several poor calls against him in the second
set. After arguing with the umpire, the freshman was given a
point penalty. But he was able to regain his composure, and
he won the match in a third-set 10-point tiebreaker, 6-4, 5-7,
"I was really frustrated, but I knew I had to play a 10-
point tie-breaker," Maravic said. "I needed to focus on
every point to win."
Maravic's ability to bounce back after the penalty did not go
unnoticed by Berque, who said that Maravic has developed his
mental game to the point where the coaches are confident that
he can compete at the top singles position now.
"Mentally and emotionally, he's become a very consistent
and strong competitor," Berque said. "He would occasionally
have a little loss of control with his emotions, but, over the last
10 matches or so, he's been a rock, mentally."
Berque also said that, physically, Maravic has demonstrated
noticeable improvement in his net and service games while
compiling his current 9-4 record.
But it is the Croatian native's "no fear" attitude that
Berque believes will help Maravic handle the pressure
of playing at No. 1.
"The first time Matko heard he was playing at No. 1
was right before the singles (on Sunday)," Berque said.
"I had a hunch that it wasn't necessary to talk to him
(before that). He doesn't care who he's playing. He just
loves playing and competing."
In addition to moving Maravic up to the No. 1 spot, senior
Josef Fischer entered the singles lineup on Sunday against
Butler. He had appeared in just three matches before then, but
Fischer easily took the match, 6-2, 6-1.
"Josef has been coming along a lot," Berque said. "Lately,
he's been winning very convincingly, and it's good to know we
have him as an option."
Even with the lineup changes, Berque said that the team
does not place much importance on where each player com-
petes in the lineup.
"I honestly think the goal for Matko is not to stay at the No.
1 position," Berque said. "It's to get better and help the team
win. I try to de-emphasize the lineup with the team, ... We
have more important things to worry about."
Maravic and the Wolverines will look to continue its two-
game win streak against Louisiana State in Baton Rouge on
Sunday. The noon match will be the first of five consecutive
matches on the road for Michigan.
Frosh Katie Ueberman remains optimistic despite the team's performance in Athens, Ga.
meet for a few minutes. Her plan was
to discuss what happened and then
never to bring it up again.
"It's a learning experience," Plocki
said of the meet. "If we find ourselves
in that situation again - if there is a
little mistake or the judging isn't as
we'd like it - I want to see determina-
tion on their faces. And I want to see
them digging down, pulling out their
Michigan pride and saying to them-
selves, 'Darn it, we're not going to let
anybody put us down. We're going to
show you how good we are.' "
For most of the season, every time
a gymnast was out on the floor or per-
forming her beam routine, she exuded
confidence. It was this "reckless aban-
don" that helped Michigan become so
successful on the floor and beam - it
was seventh and third in the nation,
respectively. And when a team does so
well during the course of the season,
it can be easy to take confidence for
granted. Now Michigan knows that
not every meet can be viewed through
"We got a rough meet out of our
way and out of our system," freshman
Katie Lieberman said. "I think it will
help us in a way because we'vebeen
so consistent and scoring so well. It
just pumps you up to do better and
make sure it never happens again."
But coach Plocki doesn't believe
this loss will hurt the momentum the
team had before the meet.
"I hope that this experience is going
to give us a great deal of motiva-
tion," Plocki said. "I hope it will be
something that will give us that little
The coach also said that all the
problems the Wolverines had on Fri-
day night were mental, and she doesn't
feel the team has to deviate too much
from the normal routine in the future.
With its worst meet of the year
behind them, the Wolverines' season
may rest on their ability to regain their
confidence and think to themselves,
"what a wonderful world."
MNOT I . -.Di- sprl- t , - i(- trr-stior IMPROVE.N-I.ElYr, BT.,UJ:, DROPSTO IIFTH
Despite shooting eight shots better than yesterday, the
Michigan women's golf team dropped one spot - to fifth -
on the second day of the UNLV Spring Invitational. The team
shot a 308 but was unable to move up on the leader board due
to solid performances by Tennessee and Pepperdine.
Senior captain Laura Olin played remarkably better,
shooting a 73 - eight strokes better than her Monday score.
On the day, Olin managed to birdie four holes and had no
hole worse than a bogey. With her stellar performance, Olin
moved into a tie for 12th place. Junior Amy Schmucker
struggled early, shooting a five-over par on the front nine.
But she was able to bounce back to finish 7-over par on the
day. Schmucker fell 13 spots into a tie for 17th.
- Randy Ip
Freshman Matko Maravic won two singles matches at No. 1this past weekend against Butler and Indiana State.
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