In any athletic environment, there is always a desire for
rookies to prove themselves worthy as competitors. The three
freshmen — Liz Exon, Lindsey Goldstein and Kara Delicata
— on the Michigan women’s tennis team are no
exception.

Mira Levitan
Michigan freshman Lindsey Goldstein performed well in her flight of the Wolverine Invitational in October with a 4-0 record. (FILE PHOTO)

They have found that their actions are the fastest way to
validating their presence on the team. After demonstrating their
individual ability during the fall season, these women have gained
the respect of their teammates, coaches and opponents. Now, they
are just excited to play in a team environment with aspirations of
winning the Big Ten title in 2004.

This weekend the Wolverines host Eastern Michigan, Georgia Tech
and LSU in the second Michigan Invitational. While the Invitational
is not part of the dual-match season, it is the first event of the
winter. The freshman trio voiced anticipation in regard to playing
team events, but coach Bitsy Ritt is confident that they will
continue to perform up to par.

“Players sometimes have feelings of anxiety and
nervousness at the beginning of the dual-match season,” Ritt
said. “I’ve had some funny conversations with players
on the first change-over about how nervous they actually are, but
once the match gets going, they focus on the game, relax and
realize it’s the same game of tennis they’ve played all
their life.”

Exon, who is the No. 6 ranked singles player in the Midwest
region according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, takes
Ritt’s advice to heart and tries to maintain a calm attitude
before heading into a match. She also looks to her older brother
and sister for guidance, as both have made the transition to
college tennis.

“As I watched my brother and sister play college tennis, I
had an idea of what it was going to be like,” Exon said.
“It’s everything I expected.”

The California native had an exceptional individual season,
winning the first Wolverine Invitational and finishing with a 10-4
record. This confidant freshman attributes her success to hard work
and motivation from teammates.

“Team tennis is totally different than what I grew up
playing,” Exon said. “I’m a little unsure, but my
teammates know what it takes to win. When I’m looking at the
team individually, I can tell we have a lot of depth — we are
ready to compete.”

Delicata and Goldstein echo Exon’s contentment with the
fall season and are equally excited for the winter season to
begin.

“The Wolverine Invitational was a great confidence
booster,” Delicata said. “I didn’t know what it
was going to be like coming into a NCAA environment.”

Delicata, who hails from Windsor, Canada, is a foreigner to team
tennis, but has quickly adapted to both an American school and the
team environment. She admits it is easier to share her emotions and
nerves with the eight other girls on the team than keep them to
herself.

“I love this team,” Delicata said.
“There’s a lot of school spirit here, which Michigan
tennis really embodies.”

While this environment might be different for Delicata,
Goldstein has easily adapted to the team setting. Her doubles
partner in the Wolverine Invitational was also her partner at
Highland Park (Ill.) High School, sophomore Debra Streifler.

“We won state champs together in high school, and I love
playing with her,” Goldstein said of Streifler.
“It’s really rare that two people from the same high
school are on the same team.”

“Freshmen are always fun,” Coach Ritt said.
“But this is certainly a great class. They bring a lot to the
program.”

Every player on the team agrees that the conference will be
competitive, but with the addition of these three women, the
team’s conference title aspirations are definitely
attainable.

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