12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 11, 2005
'M' battles familiar.
foe to open season
By Chastity Rolling
Daily Sports Writer
For sophomore Kara Delicata,
playing tennis is more than merely
winning and losing matches. It is
a celebration of ability. The Cana-
dian does not take running across
the court or hitting a tennis ball for
granted because her younger sister,
Jordan, will never be able to do the
Jordan, who is 15 years old, was
diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a
disorder that hinders muscle mov-
ing. Jordan is restricted to a wheel-
chair and has no mobile or verbal
capabilities. Delicata takes her
sister's disadvantage and uses it as
motivation while playing tennis.
"If I am losing a match, I think
about Jordan, and I know that she'd
be proud just watching me play,"
Delicata said. "I like to win for her.
She really likes tennis and watch-
ing me play, and I always want to
make her proud".
Even when Jordan is not at the
matches watching her sister play,
her positive attitude surrounds Kara
and pushes her to do her best. She
said Kara knows that, win or lose,
she is fortunate to have the ability
"I know she'll never get the
chance to do any of the things
I've been lucky
cata said. "I have
never met a person that could
be so incredibly happy with
the small things in life. Like if
I pick a flower out of a garden
and give it to her, she'll be
extremely happy. Or she's con-
tent watching me practice for
hours. She appreciates little
things like that, and she really
keeps me going."
Inspired by her sister's
strength, Delicata said
that she has now
realized that ten-
nis is not every-
thing. Kara knows Deli
that her sister bat-
tles everyday to have
the energy to make it
through a day of school. Jor-
dan can't walk or do most of the
things that normal people can do.
For Kara, those things are a much
bigger deal than playing tennis.
Last year, Delicata lost her moti-
vation as she adjusted to playing
at Michigan. In Juniors, she often
won matches easily. But at the col-
legiate level, it was difficult for
her. Delicata finished her freshmen
year with a record of 17-8 in singles
and 26-14 in doubles. The intense
competition and increased amount
of losses took Delicata's motiva-
tion away. She added to this stress
by pressuring herself to win every
match. Instead of going into match-
es with a clear mind, Delicata said
she went into some matches think-
ing, "I can win this match. I have to
beat this girl".
Delicata admits that while this
kind of pressure may help other
people, it does not help her. The
pressure to win was actually
destructive by making her overana-
lyze her technique, leading to more
"I was just negative toward
myself," Delicata said. "I was very
pessimistic, and it did not help my
Toward the end of last season,
Michigan's team captain and
Delicata's doubles partner, senior
Michelle DaCosta, saw a vast
improvement in her game.
"Last year, (Delicata) had a lot of
close matches," DaCosta said.
"In the beginning, sometimes
she won those close matches
and sometimes she lost. But
toward the end of the sea-
son, she won most of her
After freshman year,
Delicata had a mission
for her summer train-
ing: repair her destruc-
tive attitude and create a
calmer playing environ-
ment for herself. Estab-
lishing this laid-back
approach was not easy
Over the summer,
Delicata went back
home to Windsor to
improve her topspin,
her forehand, the
accuracy of her serve
and, most impor-
ata tantly, her attitude.
Delicata said that
she often had
to work on the
hitting the ball - hitting the same
shot for upwards of an hour and a
half. Repetition was a key to her
By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me
twice, shame on me.
Clich6 or not, this old adage can come
around and hurt teams that are not pre-
pared. Michigan men's tennis coach
Bruce Berque hopes this will not be the
case this weekend when his team hosts
Western Michigan in both teams' first
dual match of the season.
The two teams are not strangers. They
faced off during the fall season at the
Wolverine Invitational in October, and
surprisingly Western Michigan won five
of the 10 matches contested. In the tour-
nament-style format, there was no team
scoring. But that doesn't mean the Wol-
verines are going to take their opponents
lightly this time around.
"If we weren't already aware, (the
Wolverine Invitational) made us aware
that they have some very good players,"
Berque said. "They are not going to sur-
prise us this year, and we should be pre-
pared to face some tough competition."
Berque is not making excuses - he
knows the Broncos are not pushovers by
any means. They are the defending MAC
regular season and tournament champi-
ons, and showed a lot of heart in their
earlier encounter with Michigan.
Western Michigan won the first four
singles matches, all in dramatic fash-
ion. First, third and fourth singles were
all decided in three sets, and the tour-
nament's only two-set win of the bunch
- second singles - went into two deci-
sive tiebreakers. While Michigan took
the remaining three singles matches in
straight sets, the doubles matches were
all close. The Wolverines won second
and third doubles to make the overall
Things will be different this weekend,
as both teams have improved since the
early stages of the fall season. Michigan
was without senior Michael Rubin - No.
29 in ITA Midwest Regional rankings
- a team leader and catalyst to Mich-
igan's success. Aside from Rubin, the
Wolverines are looking for a boost from
Brian Hung, who enjoyed a breakout fall
season. During the fall, Hung moved into
the top five in both singles and doubles
rankings for the Midwest. He and his
doubles partner, fellow sophomore Ryan
Heller, reached the national semifinals
earlier this year at the ITA National
"We've shown a lot of improvement
from day one," Berque said. "Every-
one has been working hard and making
adjustments (to) their games.
"With the added excitement of
a dual match, we will certainly be
ready to play."
Berque is used to success in dual
matches. Before coming to Michigan
this year, he was an associate head coach
at Illinois, where his teams compiled an
NCAA-record 64 straight dual-match
wins. With this familiarity, Berque
knows that getting off to a good start is
"Obviously, getting off on the right
foot is key," Berque said. "Gaining confi-
dence early on can only help our games.
"But we all know the season is long.
We aren't going to put all of our eggs in
The Wolverines hope to begin a new
streak for Berque on Saturday when they
take on the Broncos at 2 p.m. at the Var-
sity Tennis Center.
Sophomore Kara Delicata posted a 17-8 sing
"The more you do something the
more confident you become with
it," Delicata said.
Delicata also taught at a local
tennis club in Windsor. She feels
that opportunity also helped in her
"It was a great experience for
me," Delicata said. "Kids always
bring out the good side of people
Another key to her revival was
reading. With an interest in sports
psychology as a possible major,
Delicata also began reading books
about how to deal with the pressure
of being an athlete. It was impor-
tant for her to focus on her indi-
vidual weakness over her summer
break because, at school, practice
usually includes drills and group
workouts. Delicata stays abreast
with her motivational reading. One
book that her coach encouraged
her to read over winter break was
"Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to
"After I read 'Mind Gym,' I real-
ized that, with a more positive atti-
tude, I could win more matches,"
Delicata said. "I used the book's
contents to change my mentality
in matches from really negative to
more positive. Obviously it isn't per-
fect yet, but I am working on it."
gles record last year.
Delicata hopes to keep this men-
tality during her matches and feels
that it is helping her approach her
matches with a lighter tone. Assis-
tant coach Katy Propstra is seeing a
vast change in Delicata's attitude.
"Kara has a lot of potential both
in singles and doubles." Propstra
said. "She plays with power. She
just seems to have more confidence
now when she's out there on the
Coaches are not the only ones
noticing Delicata's development.
Her mother, Gina Delicata, also
sees an improvement in her daugh-
"When Kara went back to school
in August, she seemed more pre-
pared and more relaxed with her
game," Gina said.
But, most importantly, Delica-
ta feels a change in herself from
being destructive to growing into a
more constructive player. Delicata
said that even something as little as
how she responds to a missed shot
has helped show her how she has
After a missed shot, she used to
beat herself up mentally by saying
to herself, "That was the easiest
shot ever! How could I miss it?"
But now she simply thinks to
herself, "I'll get it next time."
Senior Michael Rubin Is ranked No. 29 in the ITA Midwest Regional fall rankngs.
0 MEN'S GYMNASTICS
Low ranking motivates tumblers
By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
With the 2005 season underway, the
Michigan men's gymnastics team isn't
the least bit discouraged by its No. 7
preseason national ranking. After fin-
ishing in the top-five in each of the
last six seasons, coach Kurt Golder
and his crew of seniors are confident
that, come April, they will be at the
top of the polls.
"Rankings are pretty skeptical,"
senior David Flannery said. "I mean,
it's like the BCS, and you can't go by
the BCS. You just have to work hard in
the offseason, and everything will come
together at the end of the year."
While many of the gymnasts believe
the team won't reach its full potential
until the second half of the season -
and won't peak until the NCAA Cham-
pionships - they are sure that they will
be climbing the polls once conference
play begins against Iowa this Saturday.
"I'm pretty sure we will move up
because we always start off slow,"
senior captain Geoff Corrigan said.
"And all of the rankings get tossed
up, so it really doesn't matter. In 1999,
when (Michigan) won a national cham-
pionship, (the team) was ranked No. 8.
It all depends on NCAAs .
"Obviously, our preseason ranking is
a little low," fifth-year senior and sec-
ond-year captain Chris Gatti said. "So
throughout the season we are definitely
going to prove to the country that we're
better than that and we have the poten-
tial to be national champions. That is
our goal for the season, and we want to
go out on top."
The team's roster has only been
strengthened from last year with the
return of Gatti as well as the addition of
"My expectation for this season is
to beat the preseason No. 7 ranking,"
Golder said. "We've been in the top
five for the last six years, and we didn't
graduate anyone. We've added a few
freshmen, so I expect this team should
be a top-three team and will be a real
strong contender for the title."
The strong roster erases any depth
issues the team might run into through-
out the season. This forces the team
to focus its preseason training on the
details of the gymnasts' routines to
make sure it enters the season strong
and without any hiccups.
"We have been working hard all pre-
season, and we have some new talent
on the team," Golder said. "We have
everyone returning from last season,
and we're going to go in and try our
hardest. So I don't foresee any major
As far as the freshmen are concerned,
Golder won't be looking for them to
contribute until later in the season. He
will instead be using the first few meets
to determine the squad's lineup prefer-
ence and where the new faces will fit in
best with the team dynamic. While the
freshmen have been performing well in
practice, Golder is well aware that suc-
cess in the practice gym doesn't always
translate into successful routines dur-
ing competitions. He plans on turning
to the freshmen around NCAA tour-
nament time, when he knows another
championship will be impossible with-
"By the end of the year, I will be
counting on at least a couple of (the
freshmen) to make some contribution
to the team and, hopefully, help us win
a championship," Golder said.
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