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January 30, 2006 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-30

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - January 30, 2006 - 7B

Heller propels 'M' to close victory

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer

Michigan junior Jeff Porter won his third high-hurdle event at the Terrier Classic in
Boston. Porter clocked a 7.46 in the final to secure first place.
Record weight
throw highlights
Blue's weekend

"You're gonna have to make it
Assistant coach Michael Kosta of
the No. 48 Michigan men's tennis team
was trying to re-focus junior Ryan
Heller in Friday's match against No.
65 William & Mary.
Once again, the Wolverines found
themselves tied in a 3-3 dual-match
Once again, the outcome rested
on the shoulders of a single Michi-
gan player.
And once again, the Wolverines
pulled through under pressure.
Last weekend, it was freshman
Andrew Mazlin who held Michigan's
destiny. This time, it was the veteran
Heller who held the key to the team's
fate. Heller was deadlocked in a tough
No. 3 singles match against the Tribe's
Alex Cojanu. The co-captain had nar-
rowly squeaked by his opponent in a
first-set tiebreaker, and the two traded
off breaks late in the second frame.
But Heller managed to edge out Coja-
nu, 7-6 (4), 7-5, to lead Michigan to yet
another come-down-to-the-last-man
victory, 4-3.
"I feel most proud of the way we
came through at the end," Michigan
coach Bruce Berque said. "Ryan
Heller really came through under
pressure like a champion. He was up
and down a little bit and had oppor-
tunities to serve it out. But when he
got broken, he kept his composure
really well. He did a great job to pull
One of those optimal service oppor-
tunities came at 5-3 in the second set.
Cojanu appeared unfazed by Heller's
big service game and broke the junior.
But in appropriate fashion, Heller had
the chance to earn his redemption, win
the match and seal a "W" for Michigan
(3-0) off of Cojanu's serve.
"I was just trying to neutralize (his
serve)," Heller said. "That last game,
I told myself to make every return,
and I knew I would beat him. After

returning his serves, it took a load off
of my back and put it onto his. I was
able to dictate points better and make
my shots."
Despite facing Cojanu's powerful
serves, Heller showed no fear in con-
tinuing to come to the net to put away
"I was missing easy shots, so I just
tried to play with more spin," Heller
said. "When I got my short ball, I knew
I had to get into the net to put the pres-
sure on him."
Pressure has certainly been the
theme of Michigan's dual-match sea-
son thus far. The victory against Wil-
liam & Mary marks the second 4-3
finish in three matches, and Michigan
appears to be thriving in these pressure
Similar to their match against West-
ern Michigan the previous weekend,
the Wolverines struggled on the dou-
bles end and gave the Tribe an early 1-
0 lead. Michigan would have to rely on
its steady singles play to cling to any
hopes of victory.
"Any time you lose the doubles point
in college, it's tough to win four singles
matches," Berque said.
Difficult or not, Michigan did exactly
that - for the second time in a week.
With the freshmen struggling
against a tough William & Mary
squad, the veterans carried the day.
Junior Brian Hung improved his indi-
vidual singles record to 3-0 with a
straight-set dominating performance,
6-2, 6-3, against the Tribe's Stephen
Ward. Named last week's Big Ten
Conference Athlete of the Week, the
co-captain continued to utilize an
aggressive net game to contribute to
Michigan's victory.
Sophomore phenom Matko Mara-
vic made a statement against Colin
O'Brien at the No. 1 singles position.
The emotional leader hustled all over
the court and capitalized on his oppo-
nent's mistakes to secure a 6-3, 6-2
Sparring off in a very tight match,
junior Steve Peretz rounded off Michi-
gan's singles success. Exhibiting a good

By John Gelse
Daily Sports Writer
Brendan Lodge knew it was a good
throw. Needing something special to
win the weight throw, and down to
his last attempt, the freshman felt
good about his effort as soon as he
released it.
"I knew it was a good throw,"
Lodge said. "I definitely felt like it
was a personal best, but I had no idea
it was that good."
Lodge had released a throw of
61-5, besting the previous Michigan
school record of 61-4 set by Patrick
Johansson in 1999.
"When I'm given the measure-
ments (at the meet), they are in met-
ric," Lodge said. "I can't convert
accurately in my head. So I knew it
was close (to the record), but I had
no idea (my throw) was (the record)
until later."
Lodge's throw was the story for
the Michigan men's track and field
team Friday at the Terrier Classic in
Boston. In a non-scoring meet that
seemed to be more about progress
than results, the freshman's throw,
along with the impressive win by his
teammate and friend Sean Pruitt in
the shot put, drew strong praise from
all around.
"I was seeing some (good) things
in practice," field coach David Kaiser
said. "I thought that, if (Brendan and
Sean) could execute those things in a
meet situation, there were some spe-
cial things that could happen. And,

certainly, they both pulled it off."
Lodge and Pruitt's strong show-
ings were just two of the many things
that impressed Michigan coach Ron
Warhurst about his team in this
"Everybody performed well
today," Warhurst said. "We had three
guys in the 3,000 (-meter) get per-
sonal bests, and our 4x4 relay had a
great run."
Warhurst also praised freshman
miler Justin Switzer, who finished
his race in 4:05, as well as junior Jeff
Porter, who won the hurdles.
Porter's race was especially
impressive. He won his third high-
hurdle event in as many meets,
clocking a 7.46 in the final to capture
first place.
"Thus far this season, I am pret-
ty happy with my progress," Porter
said. "My times are still coming
down, and I am getting much more
technically sound on the hurdles."
Next weekend, the Wolverines
travel to South Bend for the Meyo
Invitational. These next few meets
are not nearly as important to the
team as the fast-approaching Big Ten
season, but Porter still sees a lot for
the Wolverines to strive for.
"We are still doing a lot of heavy
lifting early in the weeks, which
really takes a lot out of you," Porter
said. "But, nonetheless, the coaches
want to make sure we can still com-
pete when we are heavy and tired.
Then, later on, when we are fresh,
we will be ready to go."

Michigan junior Ryan Heller edged out William & Mary's Alex Cojanu, 7-6 (4), 7-5,
to give the Wolverines a 4-3 victory over the Tribe. The win marked Michigan's
second 4-3 finish in its last three matches.

deal of patience in an evenly-matched
contest, Peretz used the serve-and-vol-
ley combination to finish off the Tribe's
Billy Mulligan, 6-4, 6-4.
Although just one match .last fall

resulted in a 4-3 outcome, this year's
trend of close matches has yet to rattle
this young bunch of Wolverines.
"As long as we're winning (the close
matches), I don't mind," Berque said.

New mindset
aids Delict
By Dan Feldman
Daily Sports Writer
Junior Kara Delicata of the Michigan women's ten-
nis team won her first Big Ten Conference Player of the
Week award Jan. 18 for her play at the Michigan Invi-
But for Delicata to get to that level, it took a lot of sup-
port from sources both on and off the court.
Struggling with keeping her concentration during
the games, Delicata went to see Greg Harden, one of
Michigan's two sports psychologists.
"At the end of last season, I started seeing (Harden)
about my game and talking about things that were both-
ering me, and it really helped me a lot;' Delicata said.
"It became a huge relief for me to get everything off
my chest and have someone knock some sense into me,
which is exactly what I needed"
Harden says that his interactions with athletes are
similar to the peer assistance programs in place at many
high schools, but with a performance training aspect to
the meetings.
Harden, who meets with Delicata after every match,
has yet to see her play since they began meeting, but
plans to do so soon.
"(I worked with her on) redefining the concept of
mental toughness and not being afraid to lose;' Harden
said. "She came struggling to find a way to improve her
focus. She allowed me to examine how she had been
approaching the game."
Happy with Delicata's overall progress, Harden was
"pleasantly surprised" about learning of her award.
"She's doing everything with (the) understanding
that if her mental game is tight, nothing can stop her,"
Harden said. "What I believe is that she is a lot more
aggressive and confident. She's no longer afraid of being
Harden describes Delicata as an excellent client
who has really applied what they've talked about to her
"Kara is one of the sweetest, nicest individuals you'll
ever meet;" he said. "That used to show up in her game.
There was no killer instinct that was apparent. She had
it, but it would come and go. For her to be able to sustain
that passion, that makes her a fierce competitor. And

Ne6tters fall 6-1
to Commodores

By Dan Feldman
Daily Sports Writer

The No. 35 Michigan women's
tennis team opened its season with a
narrow win over DePaul, a match in
which Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said
her team didn't play its best tennis.
On the other hand, No. 8 Vander-
bilt, the Wolverines' host yesterday,
is cruising in its early play. Before
yesterday the Commodores had
won every flight in both of their
matches and, with one exception, in
straight sets.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines,
they became the latest notch in Van-
derbilt's belt, falling 6-1.
Things started off poorly for Mich-
igan when it lost the doubles point.
Junior Kara Delicata and sophomore
Allie Shafner fell 8-3 at No. 1, and
senior Debra Streifler and freshman
Chisako Sugiyama dropped their
match 8-1 at No. 2. Freshman Lindsey
Howard and senior Nina Yaftali man-
aged to save the Wolverines some face
when they broke open a 5-5 deadlock
for an 8-5 victory.
"As far as doubles, we should have
been able to get that point," Shafner
said. "It gave them a lot of confi-
dence. Winning four out of six singles
matches is very tough to do against
any team. Winning that point set them

snowballed against us. We have to
come with high energy. You have
to have a spring in your step and be
ready for every point.
The Commodores turned their early
energy into three fairly quick singles
wins that, coupled with the doubles
point, clinched them a team victory.
Delicata was defeated 6-1, 6-2 at
No. 1. Yaftali suffered a 6-2, 6-3 loss
at No. 2 before junior Elizabeth Exon
fell at No. 4, 6-2, 6-3.
At No. 3, Sugiyama forced her
match into a third set, but she ulti-
mately fell 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Michigan's
lone team point came at No. 5 where
Streifler won a close match 7-6 (5-7),
5-7, 1-0 (10-8). Rounding things out,
Shafner lost 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6.
"Vanderbilt does a very good job
of playing the long points and playing
defense," Ritt said. "They put a lot of
balls back. They served and returned
better than us, too. They played well,
and unfortunately, this wasn't our best
tennis throughout the lineup.
But Ritt also pointed out there were
some positive things she saw in the
match, particularly in Michigan's two
flight victories.
With those positives in mind, Strei-
fler isn't putting too much stock into
this loss and is instead looking ahead
to the team's matches next weekend
against South Carolina and Maryland

Junior Kara Delicata's new mindset helped her win her first Big Ten Player of the Week award Jan. 18.

be consistent - she's learning to master consistency.
Anyone can be good now and then. The goal is to be
Delicata's consistency came through in her play at the
Michigan Invitational. She won all three of her singles
matches in straight sets, including two wins over ranked
"I really didn't think about who I was playing or any-
thing other than each point I was playing," Delicata said.
"I stayed focused on every point and didn't allow my
mind to stray at all."
Delicata also proved successful in doubles at the
Michigan Invitational, pairing with sophomore Allie
Shafner to go 2-1, including a win over a seventh-ranked
duo from California.
Delicata's poise at doubles can be traced back to fresh-

man year, when she played No. 1 doubles with Michelle
DaCosta. DaCosta said she feels that she helped Delicata
understand what it takes to compete at that top spot.
"I think Kara has learned the importance of momen-
tum;' DaCosta said. "The eight-game pro-set is a very
quick, fast paced match, especially at No. 1 doubles. So
because of that, I think Kara has learned the importance
of being aggressive on big points and taking chances."
This year, Shafner, who has joined Delicata at No. 1
doubles, is excited to be part of the cycle of support that
helped send Delicata to the top of the Big Ten.
"With Michelle, she taught her so much;' Shafner
said. "Now she's been able to step up and reverse the
roles, and it's awesome. I feel like I'm learning a lot.
When I'm a senior, I will have learned a lot of things
that I'll be able to contribute."

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