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April 08, 1991 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-04-08

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Page 4--The Michigan Daily- Sports Monday -April 8, 1991

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BLUE EYES FIXED ON BIG TEN TOURNAMENT

Netters tune-up
b. Ad.I.. K~I.

for

Madison

uy ,.am miner
Daily Sports Writer
Before the season, the Michigan
women's tennis team was dis-
satisfied.
The Wolverines had been picked
to finish fourth in the regular
season Big Ten standings, behind
defending champ Indiana, North-
western and Wisconsin. With an
experienced squad that has no first-
year players, they thought they
deserved better. For a while, it
looked like Michigan's claims were
legitimate.
"Our goal is to upset some of the
teams ahead of us and finish higher
than No. 4," coach Bitsy Ritt said
after the Wolverines' 4-0 non-
conference start.
However, the season is now more
than half over and the team has a
different perspective. Last month,
Michigan lost to both North-
western and Wisconsin. The Wol-
verines' only remaining chance to
beat a team ahead of them in the Big
Ten standings comes April 15, when
they take on Indiana in Bloom-
ington. Defeating the Hoosiers, the
Midwest regional champions two
years running, on the road seems
unlikely. Without an upset at In-
diana, the Wolverines will need to
win to ┬░rest of their matches just to
keep their No. 4 Big Ten standing.
Ritt is realistic about Michigan's
chances, but she does not concede the
match to the Hoosiers in advance.

"I want our effort at Indiana to
resemble our effort given in the
Notre Dame match," she said. Mich-
igan played Notre Dame much tight-
er than the final 7-2 defeat indicates
as three of the seven losing matches
went to three sets and one ended in a
tiebreaker.
"Our goal is to have every player
approach the match with a positive
attitude and give 110 percent. Then,
whatever happens, happens," Ritt
added.
'I think everybody on
the team is
potentially a star on
any given day --.
That's the type of
effort you have to
have'

Like any team, the Wolverines
need strong leadership. Michigan
has that in co-captains Stacy Berg,
the Wolverines' only senior, and
junior Freddy Adam. Of course, it's
difficult for a leader to have the
kind of direct impact in tennis the
way a point guard does in bas-
ketball. Instead, the captain pro-
vides leadership by example.
Berg has set a great example for
Michigan this year. She started the
season at No. 5 singles, but worked
her way up to No. 2 in past weeks.
Albany, Calif., native Freddy
Adam especially shines in doubles
play. Two weeks ago, she teamed
with fellow junior Amy Malik for
a victory against nationally-ranked
Notre Dame.
Christine Schmeidel, Michigan's
No. 1 singles player, also sets the
tone for the team. The junior from
Valencia, Calif., was hampered early
in the season with elbow and
shoulder injuries. She has worked
hard to comeback, and the com-
pleteness of her recovery was shown
in a convincing straight set victory
against Oklahoma.
But leaders can't do it all them-
selves as all positions count equally
in the final tally. Michigan has
received strong support recently
from Malik, who went 6-0 during
Michigan's series at South Bend.
"Amy is playing great tennis
now," Ritt said, "but I think every-

body on the team is potentially a
star on any given day. It was Amy's
and Freddy's turn last weekend, and
maybe this weekend or next week-
end it will be somebody else's turn.
That's the type of effort you have to
have because you never know how
you're going to match up with any
one team."
There is plenty of time for every-
one to take their turn, since Mich-
igan still has five of its nine Big Ten
matches left to play. Then, the Wol-
verines will put it all on the line
April 26-28 at the Big Ten Cham-
pionships, in Madison, Wis.
Final regular season standings
determine tournament seeds. Ritt
feels that it is critical to finish in
the top six, since these schools will
be placed in the top half of the
initial eight-team bracket. On the
first day of competition, prelim-
inary matches determine the two
teams that will receive a bye into
the second day's winners' bracket.
Teams square off on the last day
in a fight for the coveted odd fin-
ishes. A squad's season ends with a
victory if it finishes first, third,
fifth, seventh, or ninth.
"We have a chance to do well (in
the regular season)," Ritt said, "but
our players have to realize that
we're shooting for one weekend. The
regular season results help you with
your draw, but there's no guarantee
you'll finish at that position."

- Bitsy Ritt
tennis coach

Women's

Like swimming, tennis is not a
team-sport in the traditional sense,
where players function as a cohesive
unit. Instead, the team score is a
tally of nine matches, six singles
and three doubles. Still, there is the
same pressure to perform for the
team that there is in football or
basketball.
"There's a lot of pressure when
it's 4-4 and you're the last one on
the court," Ritt said.

Ritt's coaching is
anything but 'Bitsy'

by Robert Siegel
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan women's tennis coach
Elizabeth "Bitsy" Ritt was born a
competitor.
Literally.
Born two months premature,
Ritt entered the world at a
Milwaukee hospital weighing just
three pounds. And she acquired the
diminutive nickname that has stuck
with her ever since.
"The nurses called me 'Bitsy' be-
cause of my size," Ritt said. "The
fact that my given name is Elizabeth
is pure coincidence."
Coincidence or not, the name has
stuck. She actually prefers to be
called "Bitsy," proud of her small
beginning and her ability to over-
come it.
Ritt's initial struggle for health
may have also given her something
else - her love of competition. It is
a love that found a perfect outlet in
athletics, particularly tennis.

Ironically, her desire for more of
a challenge led her right to her own
backyard, the University of
Wisconsin. Although the competi-
tion was much stiffer there, she did
not exactly suffer, earning All-Big
Ten and All-Regional honors. In
fact, Ritt was so successful that she
served as Wisconsin's assistant
coach during her last two years
there.
"I had a great experience coach-
ing at Wisconsin. At the time I
graduated, the money being devoted
to women's athletics was rapidly
increasing. I realized that there
would be a lot of opportunity if I
stayed with it."
Ritt had discovered a new chal-
lenge in coaching. So when
Michigan's head coaching job be-
came vacant, she quickly applied.
"When I interviewed for the
Michigan position, Michigan had a
good tennis program that I thought
I could help build further. I was
also very excited about the possibil-
ity of coaching in the Big Ten. I've
always loved the competitiveness of
it."
In September, 1984, the "Ritt
Era" began at Michigan. In her first
three years, the team's victory to-
tals went from nine to ten to eleven.
Then, in 1987, she had her finest sea-
son, directing the team to an 18-5
record. For her effort she was named
Co-Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year.
During her seven years here, Ritt
has coached four All-Big Ten selec-
tions, a Big Ten MVP, and an
NCAA qualifier. But she is most
proud of the seven academic All-Big
Ten selections she has coached.
"I think establishing a balance
between academics and athletics is
very important," Ritt said. "I'm
very proud of what I've done in that
respect. But I still want to do
more."
Well, isn't that just like Bitsy
Ritt. Never satisfied. Always look-
ing for a new challenge.

13 at Indiana
14 at Ohio State
17 MICHIGAN STATE
20 MINNESOTA
21 IOWA
Big Ten Championships*
8-16 NCAA Championships**
*at Madison, Wis.
** at Stanford Calif.
Home Matches in CAPS
Home court: Huron Valley Tennis Club
At__

by Caryn Seidman
Daily Sports Writer
Every team needs a leader, and
the Michigan women's tennis team
has found quite a strong one in se-
nior captain Stacy Berg.
Although she does not get a
farewell tour across the country,
and nobody will be retiring her ten-
nis shirt and hanging it from the
rafters, Berg is playing her last sea-
son of college tennis.
"This is my senior year, my last
opportunity to play for the
University of Michigan, and I am
going to miss it a lot," she said.
Berg wants to leave the team
with a bang, so she has big plans for
herself and her teammates this sea-
son. She wants the Wolverines to
finish in the top three of the Big
Ten, and she is a firm believer in
their ability to do so.
"All of our players are back this
year from last year, and our doubles
is so much better - we really
struggled last year. Anyone on our
doubles team has a shot at beating
anyone they play," Berg said.
She has been playing tennis since
she was a four years old living in
River Forest, Ill., and has a very
strong winning instinct - an in-
stinct which used to cause problems.
"When I was younger, I would
lose a match and be in a bad mood
about it for an entire month after-
wards," she said.
Now Berg believes that in tennis
no one should feel the responsibil-
ity of winning or losing the entire
match, but if she loses, she wants to
know that she did everything she
could.
"I know then that I did not let
my team down," she said.
Not only does she love the thrill
of victory, but Berg likes to urge
others to share the killer instinct.
"I want to encourage everyone to
work hard to win," she said. "When
you're out on the court you can not
tell someone to win, but I want
them to be the best. I guess the best
way is to set an example. I never
give up."

Michigan co-captain Stacy Berg warms up for the remainder of the Big
Ten schedule. After the season, the Wolverines will play in the Big Ten
Championships, held April 26-28 in Madison.
Berg captains 'M'
for senior season

. .. _

-m

pallillitilum 0 M IT] I IMIRMIR

Frederika Adam*
Kalei Beamon
Stacy Berg *
Jennifer Lev
Amy Malik
Kim Pratt
Christine Schmeidel
Lisa Worzniak
* CO-CAPTAINS

Albany, Calif.
East Lansing, Mich.
River Forest, Ill.
Cedarhurst, N.Y.
Brookfield, Wis.
Pelham, Mass.
Valencia, Calif.
Adrian, Mich.

Junior
Sophomore
Senior
Junior
Junior
Junior
Junior
Sophomore

One of Berg's duties as captain is
to help motivate her teammates. It
appears that this is a responsibility
well suited for the tennis enthusi(
ast.
"It does not take that much to
motivate me to play because I like
to do it and I want to win. If you
like what you do, it doesn't take
that much motivation," Berg said.
Another positive for Berg and
her teammates is their relationship.
The team is very close because they
all return from last year with the
addition of one transfer student*
Kim Pratt.
"If you are close to everyone,
you want to do well for each
other," Berg said.
'I want to encourage
everyone to work
hard to win. When
you're out on the
court you can not tell
someone to win, but I
want them to be the ,
best. I guess the best
way is to set an
example. I never give
up'
- Stacy Berg
The relationship she has with her
teammates is one of the reasons that
Berg loves playing on the college
level - more than she did on the ju-
nior level, and more than she be-
lieves she would enjoy the pro cir-
cuit. She believes that playing for a
college team is much more satisfy-
ing.
"In junior tennis, you are reall
playing for yourself. You never get
to share your victory with anyone
except your mom and dad. It would
be the same thing on the pro circuit.
Although I might like to play in a
few tournaments, my tennis career
will basically be over at the end of
this season. I am going to miss col-
lege tennis a lot."

Ritt

As an outstanding high school
player, Ritt decided to attend
Murray State. While there, she eas-
ily defeated most of her opponents.
About a year and a half after arriv-
ing, Ritt decided to transfer.
"I was unsatisfied at Murray,"
Ritt said. "It was a small school,
and the level of play was unchal-
lenging."

Head Coach - "Bitsy" Ritt
Assistant - Wendy Gilles

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