10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Peretz battles his way to success
By Kimberly Chou
Daily Sports Writer
If junior Steve Peretz is on your team, trust him to be
He'll gut out tournament qualifiers with a shoulder
injury and dive for base-liners, whether it's in the first
or third hour of a three-set match. According to assis-
tant coach Michael Kosta, the junior will do whatever it
takes to break down an opponent.
Just don't insult his mom while playing him in a
game of Mario Tennis.
"My group of guys in New York that I used to train
with got a little out of hand, Peretz said. "We'd play a
simple game of Mario Tennis and (get) into conversa-
tion about each other's moms."
The friendly competition between Peretz and his
current teammates is less antagonistic than what he
shared with his old tennis buddies. But still imbued
with a fierce competitive streak, Peretz both works
and plays hard on and off the court for the Michigan
men's tennis team.
Hailing from Brooklyn (the "New York toughness"
comes out in his play, Kosta said, as well his pronuncia-
tion of "Mah-rio Tennis"), Peretz is a three-year veteran
and the oldest member of the men's tennis team. The
21-year-old is also one of its better competitors.
"If it comes down to the very last match, the whole
team feels very confident that ... he's going to get
through it;' Kosta said. "That's a great feeling, and his
own teammates feel that way and his coaches feel that
Experience is a big part of winning close match-
es, but so is understanding where the opponent is
"I stay focused,knowing my opponent is going through
the same thing that I am," Peretz said. "If we're in a three-
set battle, he's also in a three-set battle with me"
Kosta praises Peretz for his on-court resilience as
well as his growth in the year-and-a-half since Kosta
and Michigan coach Bruce Berque took over the men's
tennis program. Kosta says Peretz has evolved into "a
more professional college player," an oxymoron that
remarks on the player's maturity and the development
of his game. The aforementioned resilience and tough-
ness have never changed, according to Peretz.
"I take pride in a lot of things, but I think (my com-
petitiveness) is my biggest weapon," Peretz said. "And
that is really what I enjoy most about sports in general,
no matter what it is."
What's interesting about Peretz is how he refers to
his all-out sense of competition in one sentence, even
while acknowledging that he may not be the best all-
"I'm not great in all sports - or many really - but
I'll compete all the time,' Peretz said.
It's this compete-no-matter-what mentality that gives
Peretz an edge over his opponents and often wins him
With that in mind, Peretz gives a modest assessment
of the team's fall season. But even with freshmen com-
prising half of the eight-man roster, the squad has ambi-
"I'd like to see if we have a good chance to win the
Big Ten," Peretz said.
Michigan made a leap from seventh to third place
between the 2004 and 2005 season.
"It's big talk, (but) why not?" Peretz said. "So if it
doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But we're aiming for
it, and we're definitely working hard."
Peretz will have to rebound from a pulled lower-back
muscle and a 3-3 record in preseason. A month from
the start of the winter season, Peretz's injury is near-
ly healed. And with that strong sense of competition,
Peretz believes improving his personal record - as
well as the team's Big Ten record - looks likely.
"It's what I enjoy the most, seeing if I can do the
impossible," Peretz said.
Individual goals or team goals, Nintendo games or
Big Ten matches - trust Peretz to leave all his effort on
the court, no matter the circumstance.
Junior Steve Peretz hopes his battling mentality will propel Michigan to a strong season.
Continued from page 9
Unfortunately for Michigan, it will
be without Rohlfs against Colorado
College in the opening game of the
Great Lakes Invitational.
At the end of Saturday night's 7-
3 victory against Nebraska-Omaha,
Rohlfs committed a fighting penalty
that resulted in a disqualification from
both that night's affair and the next
Rohlfs's absence leaves the Wolver-
ines with just three proven defense-
men for their game against the Tigers.
Mitera and freshman Jack Johnson were
already planning on missing the contest
because of the World Junior Hockey
Michigan plays Colorado College in
the opening round of the GLI on Dec. 29
at Joe Louis Arena. The Wolverines will
play either Michigan State or Michigan
Tech the following day.
Continued from page 9
Opposing defensive lines dominated the unity
early in the season, but that was understandable.
After all, mammoth tackle Jake Long, perhaps
the team's best lineman, missed Michigan's first
seven games after suffering a freak injury in
fall camp. Tackle Adam Stenavich, guard Matt
Lentz and center Adam Kraus also took turns
sitting out with various injuries. What's more,
Rueben Riley, Mark Bihl, Mike Kolodziej and
Alex Mitchell performed admirably while filling
in for their stricken teammates. Starting guard
Leo Henige and Long will miss the Alamo Bowl
after undergoing surgery, and Kraus may also
sit out. Still, it would be fair to say that the Wol-
verines' blockers overachieved, considering the
5. You can't blame the coaching staff.
Lloyd Carr has repeatedly called this year's
squad the most "unlucky" team he's ever
coached, largely because of the rash of injuries.
Carr fought for extra time to be put on the clock
against Penn State, allowing Henne to toss the
game-winning touchdown pass to Mario Man-
ningham with one second left. Moreover, the
Wolverines' coach motivated his players every
week and made sure his team never took oppo-
nents lightly. Offensive coordinator Terry Malo-
ne gave his unit a lift by moving down to the field
from his customary position in the press box for
the Michigan State game. Malone incorporated
more successful trick plays into the offensive
attack and wasn't afraid to call the deep pass.
Defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann adapted
to the spread offenses that torched his group a
year ago by frequently using formations with five
defensive backs. Herrmann's unit even shut out
offensive powerhouse Northwestern for an entire
half. Michigan State was the only team to score
30 points against the Wolverines, and Michigan
won that game. That should exempt the coaches
from criticism. They get bonus points because
they didn't actually have to wear those cursed
6. You can't blame the defense.
The play on the defensive line was solid for
most of the year, and the secondary was surpris-
ingly good, despite concerns heading into the
season. Even when Michigan's projected fourth-
and fifth-string safeties started against Penn
State, the Wolverines held the Nittany Lions
without a passing touchdown for the entire game.
Quite a nice recovery after losing All-Americans
Marlin Jackson and Ernest Shazor after last sea-
son. Plus, LaMarr Woodley was dominant when
healthy. And is it really the defense's responsibil-
ity for allowing those late scores? Shouldn't the
offense also be faulted for putting the defense
in that position? Maybe the Wolverines should
have scored more touchdowns. The defenders
shouldn't bear the brunt of the critics' enmity.
All this leaves us with one possible explana-
tion: the team's new uniforms. Did removing
the block 'M's from the shoulders of the road
jerseys rip out the heart of each and every Michi-
gan player? Could the new lightweight, stretchy
material - which replaced the heavier tradi-
tional mesh - have minimized the legacy of the
Wolverines' storied history in the eyes of their
opponents? Is it possible that the hideous yellow
piping drew the ire - and laughter - of foes?
And what about the stitched-on names and num-
bers? Did they add a hint of authenticity in place
of the older silk-screened characters, or did they
make the players feel like a patchwork collection
We'll never know all the answers, but new
duds can certainly affect on-field performance.
Consider the Denver Broncos: After they lost
their first four Super Bowls while wearing their
famed bright orange jerseys, the team unveiled
a sleek, new look to kick off the 1997 campaign.
The result? The Broncos dethroned the Green
Bay Packers to win their first-ever Super Bowl
that same year.
I think not.
- Gabe Edelson can be reached
THAT WAS LONG, GABE.
mom DALY SPOmRs.