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September 22, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-22

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 7A

King leads young
squad into season

By ALEX STEINHOFF
Daily Sports Writer
It's been six years since a
Michigan men's tennis team has
been void of seniors. The 2005
team ended its season ranked
No. 39 and was bounced in the
first round of the NCAA Tourna-
ment by No.25 Arkansas.
This year, the Wolverines
start the season just like they did
in 2005. But with junior Evan
King ranked No. 8 in the nation
and four other contributors in
last year's lineup returning as
sophomores, expectations are
higher than a first-round exit in
the NCAA Tournament.
As the team's No. 1 singles
player, King will lead the Wol-
verines. King started last season
unranked, but ended the year
ranked No.17 with 30 wins, bow-
ing out in the Sweet 16 and ended
earning All-American status.
King was the first Michigan
player to earn All-American sin-
gles status in19 years and had the
most singles wins of any Wolver-
ine since 1998.
This season, King is ranked
below three Big Ten foes.
In doubles, King was also a
force and won matches with
three different partners. Of his
three different partners from
last season, sophomores Shaun
Bernstein and Alex Buzzi are
returning. This season, King and
Bernstein are expected to play
doubles together and are seeded
No. 33.
Bernstein not only had oppor-
tunities to play No. 1 and No. 2
doubles throughout last season,
he also solidified a spot at No. 3
singles for most of the season and
was a key everyday contributor.
In several matches last year,
Bernstein found himself in
tough third sets, and at the
beginning of the season, Ber-
nstein was losing the decisive
set. But as the year progressed
and Bernstein found himself in
third sets more often, he began
to turn the tables on his oppo-
nent and win the elusive third
sets.
For Michigan to be success-
ful, Bernstein will have to set an
example for the incoming fresh-
men about how to condition,
what kind of attitude to have on

the court, and even how to man-
age study time and diets.
Michigan also welcomes
three freshmen to its roster for
the 2011 season-Eli Brown,
Alex Petrone, and Michael Zhu.
Brown was ranked in the top
five of his junior class in Canada.
Michigan coach Bruce Ber-
que said Brown is highly moti-
vated to improve, transition
to college tennis in the United
States, and find a spot in the
lineup by the time scoring
events start in January.
Petrone, a blue-chip recruit
from New York, possesses natu-
ral shot-making skills from the
baseline that will make him
competitive in Michigan's line-
up almost immediately. Zhu also
brings excellent baseline skills
to the Wolverines. As someone
who aspires to play professional
tennis, Berque mentioned that
Zhu knows he has a lot of work
to do to reach his ultimate goal.
"We are going to have to have
at least one freshman in singles
and doubles lineups," Berque
said. "For us to be strong, these
freshmen are going to have to
be quick studies and get in the
lineup right away and improve a
lot between now and then."
Because the Wolverines have
just five returning players, at
least one of the incoming fresh-
men will have to do more than
make appearances in the lineup.
"I definitely think it's likely
that these guys will crack the
top five (in the lineup)," Ber-
que said. "We've got a lot of
guys that are pretty even on our
team. Evan has obviously estab-
lished himself as our top player,
but after that there isn't a whole
lot that would surprise me." .
Entering last season, Michi-
gan's roster of nine consisted
of three freshmen. So, it wasn't
necessary for freshmen to play
in every match. But this year,
the Wolverines only have eight
players on the roster, opening a
spot for at least one freshman to
play in every match.
The Wolverines start their
fall season this weekend, with
an appearance in the Harvard
Chowder Fall Classic. The tour-
nament field includes defending
champion USC and highly tout-
ed Texas A&M.

Junior quarterback Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense haven't recorded a single first-quarter point this season.
M'looks to couneatslow starts

By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily Sports Editor
In the Michigan football
team's first three games, it's been
getting out of the gates as fast as
Seabiscuit - N
in the horse's NOTEBOOK
present state.
And the Wolverines' opponents
aren't reluctant to beat a dead
horse.
Michigan has been outscored
21-0 in the first quarter this sea-
son. And Eastern Michigan, the
only team who didn't score in the
opening period, scored its only
points of the game in the first play
of the second quarter.
The Wolverines' defense has
given up a first-drive touchdown
in two of the first three games.
The offense has gained just 129
yards on 34 plays in the first
quarter.
"I don't know if there's a magic
answer for that," Michigan coach

Brady Hoke said.
But fifth-year senior wide
receiver Junior Hemingway
thinks he does. According to
senior defensive tackle Mike
Martin, Hemingway pointed out
in senior meetings that the team
always has their worst practice of
the week on Tuesdays, their first
day back from the weekend. Each
practice gets better as the game
goes on, mirroring their perfor-
mance on game days.
"I think it's really just a mental
thing," Martin said. "I think that
we need better leadership and I'll
put that on myself as a senior, as
captain. We need to get the guys
ready to go for the first snap of
the game.
"Maybe that's on me to make
sure I'm a little bit more intense
and ready to go and produce on
the field a bit better."
TRENDING BUT NOT TRENDY:
To 25,161 people, junior quar-
terback Denard Robinson is also

known as Denard X.
Robinson entered the Twit-
ter world with the handle of
@DenardX. The account gained
thousands of followers in the first
hours of its existence, partly due
to his teammates' heavy promo-
tion.
His first tweet actually came
from redshirt sophomore line-
backer Cam Gordon: "This Cam
and lace don't know what to
tweet."
After a week and a half, not
much has changed.
"Oh my god," Robinson said,
smiling. "I don't even know how
to tweet. I'm trying to learn. I just
made it. I don't know."
SPECIAL FEATS FOR SPECIAL
TEAMS: Redshirt sophomore
kicker Brendan Gibbons is han-
dling shorter field goals. Fresh-
man Matt Wile handles the
longer ones and is seen as the
deep threat. And he's willing to
go deeper.

He said he hit a 59-yard field
goal in practice. When asked,
Hoke said he would let Wile try
it in a game. Finding the oppor-
tunity may be the problem. Only
one team (Boise State) has yet to
attempt a field goal this season.
Michigan is one of seven teams to
attempt only one.
On the other side, redshirt
sophomore Jeremy Gallon may
be pulling double-duty after his
approximately 80-yard punt
return against Eastern Michi-
gan was called back because of a
block in the back. Hoke said Mon-
day that Gallon may both return
punts and kickoffs.
INJURY NOTE: Hoke said that
both Gordon andfifth-yearsenior
linebacker Brandon Herron will
be available to play against San
Diego State but clarified that he
didn't think they would start,
partly because of conditioning
and partly because of the play of
redshirt freshman Jake Ryan.

r

Stadium gives Blue
added confidence

By STEVEN BRAID
Daily Sports Writer
Playing at home has its advan-
tages - there's no travel, and
players are afforded the comfort
ofsleepingin their own beds and
eating home-cooked meals.
But for the Michigan women's
soccer team (6-2-1), competing
in Ann Arbor also means playing
in the Michigan Soccer Stadium:
a new venue with an inspiration-
al and vibrant atmosphere.
"The new stadium has been a
really great addition for us and
we all love it," senior defender
Kristen Goncalves said. "It does
provide a fun and energetic
atmosphere for us to play in. We
have so many more fans at home
and they're so great and ener-
getic."
Since the erection of the U-M
Soccer Complex a little more
than a year ago, the Wolverines
are 10-2-3 playing on their home
field, outscoring opponents
31-12.
Some might attribute their
home success to the extra rest
time they are provided by not
having to travel and an improved
roster in recent seasons. But
Goncalves believes that their
recent dominance at home can
be credited to their new stadium,
which provides them with extra
motivation and encouragement
when they step into the locker
room and head out onto the field.
In her freshman season,
Michigan played its "home"
games in three different loca-
tions. While the new soccer
stadium was being built, the

Wolverines played just two
home games in Ann Arbor while
the rest of its home games were
split between Ypsilanti and
Plymouth, Mich. She remembers
the unfamiliarity she felt play-
ing her home games on a field
covered with Eastern Michigan
signs.
It "just didn't feel like home,"
she said.
In the subsequent season,
Goncalves and her teammates
were lucky enough to play all of
their home games in Ann Arbor.
But while they had the fortune
of playing their home games on
campus, the new stadium still
hadn't been built yet, so they
played their home games with-
out the confines of a stadium.
Their home-field advantage was
mitigated by playing on a basic
soccer field with only a tiny sec-
tion of bleachers - seats that
were barely filled for games.
Michigan coach Greg Ryan
- who was also in his first year
when the Wolverines played
their home games in Ypsilanti
and Plymotuh - insists that
Michigan suffered immensely
from not having a place to call
home.
The extended traveling and
the lack of adequate facilities
took a toll on Michigan. In his
first two years, the Wolverines
posted a mediocre 7-5-5 record
in their home games, barely out-
scoring their opponents 27-22
duringthat two-year period.
"It's really nice to play at
home," Goncalves said. "I don't
know if it helps us win, but it def-
initely makes ita lot more fun."

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