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January 23, 2006 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-23

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - January 23, 2006 - 7B

Mazlin, Blue start
out on right foot

Junior Elizabeth Exon ended a career singles losing
streak on Saturday against DePaul.
Exon solves
jinx, helps

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
He slipped. It was over.
Only after Michigan freshman Andrew
Mazlin won the point by pulling his opponent
off the court so much that he lost his footing
and couldn't recover, could the entire Michi-
gan fan section at the Varsity Tennis Center
finally exhale.
On Saturday, with No. 48 Michigan and
Western Michigan tied at three points apiece
in a best-of-seven-point format, the fate of
the team contest was on the shoulders of the
Michigan newcomer playing in his first ever
collegiate dual-match.
But with all eyes and the pressure on him,
Mazlin made it look easy, securing a 4-3 Wol-
verines' victory in their dual-match season
opener. Later, Michigan defeated Ball State
to finish the day 2-0.
"Anytime you have to win a deciding
match, it's not an easy thing to do, especially
for a freshman playing his first dual match,"
Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. "Andrew
played his best tennis of the day when he was
under the most pressure ... which makes me
optimistic about his ability to compete and
play under pressure and raise his game when
he has to."
Down one set and two games into the
second against Western Michigan's Alex
Birchmeier, Mazlin certainly had to raise
the bar. The freshman came up with some
big-time serves and began to take advan-
tage of his opponent's mistakes. Winning
four straight games, Mazlin didn't look
back and rode this momentum to victory,
6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2.
"I picked up my intensity," Mazlin said.
"I put more balls in play to gain confidence
in my shots. I played a lot smarter I think.
I played aggressive and put more pressure
on the opponent . . . I (felt the pressure) a
little, but I just knew that it was like any

other match. I felt very comfortable in my
game after the second set."
Opening the day with three doubles losses,
the Wolverines had to win four of six singles
competitions to ensure a victory. They did
exactly that.
Matko Maravic defeated the Broncos'
No. 1 singles player, Brady Crosby, in a
seesaw battle for momentum. The sopho-
more phenom's combination of emotional
energy and patience gave him the edge
over Crosby, defeating the first-team All-
MAC Bronco, 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-1.
After burying Western Michigan's hopes
of an upset in exciting fashion, the Wolverines
carried this energy into the second dual-match
contest of its doubleheader day against No. 68
Ball State.
With his team rattled by the Broncos in
the doubles competition earlier in the day,
Berque decided to change up the Michigan
doubles lineup, aware of Ball State's reputa-
tion of tough doubles play.
This proved to work in the Wolverines'
favor - juniors Ryan Heller and Steve Peretz
edged the Cardinals' pair of Tony and Jarrod
Epkey in a match-deciding tiebreaker, 9-8 (8).
"We wanted it more," Peretz said. "I
think we focused really well. We defi-
nitely put the pressure on them with solid
returning. One guy was weaker, and we
really isolated him to make him feel real-
ly bad and, hopefully, make him want to
go home really fast."
Ball State was, indeed, sent home packing.
Michigan swept the doubles competition, led
by the duo of Maravic and sophomore Brian
Hung. The tandem showed no mercy against
their opponents with a dominating perfor-
mance both at the baseline and at the net,
defeating Ball State's Matthew Baccarani
and Patrick Thompson - the third-ranked
doubles team in the nation - 8-5.
Michigan thoroughly handled the Car-
dinals in the singles competition that fol-



Freshman Andrew Mazlin's comeback win in No. 4 singles clinched Michigan's season-opening
victory over Western Michigan.

By Dan Feldman
Daily Sports Writer
For the Michigan women's tennis team,
defeating DePaul has been like clockwork.
Coming into Saturday's match, it had beaten
the Blue Demons in each of the last six years.
But for junior Elizabeth Exon, playing
DePaul had been anything but smooth sailing.
Coming into Saturday's meet, she had lost both
of her career singles matches against DePaul.
But with the Wolverines leading 3-1 - need-
ing just one more flight win to secure a team
victory - Exon came through, battling Anja
Mihaldinec for a 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) win a majority
of the Varsity Tennis Center crowd watching
her tiebreaker.
Behind Exon's victory, the Wolverines
earned a 4-3 win over the Blue Demons.
"I tried not to think about (getting my first
win against DePaul), but that did drive my
motivation," Exon said. "It was cool, because
I didn't know my match was a clincher. I was
trying not to look at the scoreboards. A lot of
times, I do that and get distracted. To get my
utmost concentration, I can't do that."
All of Michigan's flight victories came at the
bottom of the lineup. Despite the team's bottom-
heavy performance on Saturday, Michigan coach
Bitsy Ritt does not necessarily think that the
lower end of the lineup will be the only source
of Michigan's success this season.
"Our lineup is very interchangeable, which
makes for competitive practices" Ritt said.
"We didn't get it done at the top (against
DePaul). Other matches, we will. The reality
is it's not a team of superstars. They're all very
good players. Balance is an asset. There is no
weak out."
The Wolverines started the match off on the
right foot, when senior Debra Streifler and
freshman Chisako Sugiyama coasted to an 8-1
win at No. 2 doubles. After junior Kara Deli-
cata and sophomore Allie Shafner lost 8-1 at
No. 1 doubles, freshman Lindsey Howard and
senior Nina Yaftali won at No. 3 doubles to
earn the doubles point for Michigan.
In singles play, Michigan earned a pair of
easy 6-1, 6-2 victories from Sugiyama at No. 4
and Shafner at No. 6.
"I was able to play my own game instead of
adjusting," Sugiyama said. "I was able to play
my A-game. I was just all over the other girl
pretty much."
Yaftali dropped her match at No. 1 6-4, 6-2,
setting the stage for Exon's clincher at No. 5.
Once the Wolverines had the match wrapped
up, they dropped a couple of three setters - a
matter that bothered Ritt. Streifler lost 6-7 (2-
7), 6-4, 6-3 to Antunovic at No. 3, and Delicata
fell to Gergana Ganeva 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) at
No. 2.
"We pride ourselves in winning three-set
matches," Ritt said. "We'll work on that."
After the match, Ritt was beaming about
DePaul's play. While congratulating several
Blue Demons, she told them that they will
knock off at least one of the three Big Ten
teams remaining on their schedule.
"I was concerned (with DePaul)," Ritt said. "They're
better every year. They have talented international
players. In no way did I look at this as a tune-up"

lowed, featuring straight-set wins by Hung
and Peretz who both amassed a 2-0 singles
record on the day. Michigan's success in
both doubles and singles contributed to its
decisive 5-2 defeat of Ball State that con-
cluded the Wolverines' doubleheader.
"Both of these teams are pretty strong,"
Berque said. "To beat both on the same day
with such a young group was a little (overly)

ambitious on my part in terms of schedul-
ing. So it's a good relief that it worked out.
"More than anything, I think (these wins)
will give the team confidence. It's important
that we start the dual-match note on a posi-
tive tone, which we did. I'm sure there will be
some ups and downs. But the quicker we can
learn, the quicker we can become the type of
program that I feel Michigan deserves to be."

With four newcomers, mens tennis reloads

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
Out with the old, in with the new.
This is the banner of the No.48 Michigan
men's tennis team (2-0), which approaches
the beginning of its dual-match season
with a handful of new faces. With four
freshmen on this season's roster replacing
four graduated seniors from last year, the
group of young Wolverines looks to make
a name for itself - and the program.
Second-year Michigan coach Bruce Ber-
que knows all about both the thrills and chal-
lenges that come with the new territory.
"It's tougher with (the new players')
experience level," Berque said. "But I'm
really excited about it. Being a fairly new
coach with the program, it's exciting to
have guys here who I like and who want
to work hard. It will be fun to watch how

this group is going to grow together and
become a good team."
One of the newcomers that Berque men-
tioned, Andrew Mazlin, made waves at
Michigan's first dual-match of the season,
held against Western Michigan last week-
end. With the team competition coming
down to Mazlin's match at the No. 4 posi-
tion, the freshman came through for the
Wolverines with a three-set victory.
With Mazlin acting more like a senior
veteran than a first-year collegiate athlete
under this pressure, Berque is pleased with
the freshman's progress.
"Andrew's level of play is improving real
fast," Berque said. "(All of the freshmen)
are trying hard and moving in the right
In addition to Mazlin, the freshman
class is rounded out by Peter Aarts - who
recorded both doubles and singles victories

in last weekend's doubleheader - as well
as Scott Bruckmann and Mike DePietro.
Though they are new to the program, Ber-
que has high expectations for his rookies.
"The biggest challenge for them is not
only coming in to play at the Division I
level, but we are asking them to help ele-
vate the program to more of an elite level,"
Berque said. "We're going to be playing
top-10 teams, so we're asking them to con-
tribute right away. We're not exactly eas-
ing them into it, but they've begun to have
their eyes open about what level we are
(hoping to reach)."
With no seniors in the lineup, Berque said
he expects team leadership to come predomi-
nantly from the junior class, which includes
veteran co-captains Ryan Heller and Brian
"I think it will be a good (opportunity)
for them," Berque said. "I point out to the

team the positive examples that I see. It
makes you feel good when you contribute
to the whole team."
Coming off a 2005 season where it tied
for third place at the Big Ten Team Cham-
pionships, Michigan is attempting to make
a name for itself - at both the conference
and national levels. Perhaps with young
faces and new blood, the Wolverines can
turn Berque's hopes into a reality.
"Last year, we made a jump in the confer-
ence standings," Berque said. "But (one of
the biggest) disappointments was not mak-
ing the NCAA Tournament. I don't think
that should ever happen again. We hope to
make a little bit more of a name for our-
selves on the national level and take another
step forward with the program."
Michigan's next test is against William &
Mary at 6 p.m. Friday at the Varsity Tennis

Freshmen triumph in four events at Red's meet

By Chris Herring
Daily Sports Writer
Outsiders would say that the women's track and field
team looks to be in midseason form.
But Michigan coach James Henry hopes that isn't
the case.
"I don't know if we're in midseason form or not," he
said. "I hope we're not, but I do think this team can and
will make significant improvements. Other people are
going to come around. I don't think this is (our midsea-
son form) yet."
At the Red Simmons Invitational this weekend, the
team took first place in seven out of 16 events.
Not bad for a team that hasn't peaked yet.
On Friday, Michigan freshman Bettie Wade won the
pentathlon, placing first in two of the five events. Her
score of 4,047 points came up just three points shy of
earning an automatic bid to compete at nationals. But
she garnered enough points to get an NCAA provisional
On Saturday, Wolverine freshman Tiffany Ofili won
the 60-meter hurdles, beating Nike-endorsed Lela Nelson
in a close race with a time of 8.36. Freshman Geena Gall
prevailed in the 800-meter run by outpacing Reebok-
endorsed Michigan alum Lindsey Gallo. Both Ofili and
Gall had times good enough to qualify for NCAA pro-
visional times. Freshman Casey Taylor was victorious as
well, taking the triple-jump crown with a mark of 12.46
The highly-touted freshman class is now showing
why it received so much attention before even partici-
pating in a collegiate meet.

"One of the reasons we are doing well is because
we had a good recruiting class on paper, and now that
recruiting class is putting together results," said Henry.
"Now, the upperclassmen are stepping up, and they're
saying 'Wow, these kids are really good, so I've got to
get myself in gear so that I can do my thing."'
Junior Kristen Pearson won the pole vault, clearing
3.75 meters. Seniors Stephanie Linz and Jennifer Wil-
liams tied for first place in the high jump (1.81 meters).
Their jumps qualified them for NCAA provisional
Junior Katie Erdman was also a winner. Not only was
her time of 1:29.09 in the 600-meter run good enough
to meet an NCAA provisional mark, but it also set a
Michigan Indoor Track Building record.
"The last time I ran (the 600-meter run) in 1:29 was
at the Big Ten final, so I feel like I'm ahead of schedule
right now,' Erdman said. "As a team, we've been suc-
cessful because we are working our butts off. It's really
satisfying to run well after working hard during the
Near the end of the meet, Erdman, Williams, senior
Shavonne Maclin and junior Rebecca Walter were all
named captains of this year's squad.
The team was impressive over the weekend, but there
is still plenty of room to tie up loose ends.
"There are small things we can work on,"
Henry said. "It's important that they take care of
the small things that are going to make a big dif-
ference. Strategy-wise, the kids may have made a
few small mistakes here and there. It's my job to
find those small things."

Freshman Bettie Wade was just three points shy of an NCAA automatic-
qualifying standard in the pentathlon.

Woods qualifies provisionally, loses to assistant coach

By Bryan Hamilton
Daily Sports Writer
With the crowd on their feet, slapping their
hands together in admiration, the Wolverine

1,000 meters. Woods made a gutsy move
to the front and held the lead shortly before
Brannen took over the final 1,000 meters
and left Woods with a second-place fin-
ish. Knowing the competition he was up

2.25 seconds off of the NCAA automatic
qualifying time.
Although Wolverine fans are used to see-
ing tremendous individual performances from
their runners, Saturday's events may have

Chris Stowe and freshmen Dan Harmesen
and Andre Barnes. The four edged out
Eastern Michigan by a margin of .09 sec-
onds and tallied their fastest relay time of
the season (3:18:03).


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