When Chris Shaya is asked if he feels old, his answer is simple.
“Yes. Yes I do,” Shaya said, who will soon turn 23.
There are only two seniors on the young Wolverine’s squad and two juniors with limited action. After that, there are five underclassmen.
While the captains have yet to be named, Shaya and fellow senior Chris Rolf have clearly stepped forward as leading candidates.
“Chris and I take it upon (ourselves) to be leaders and to push the guys,” Rolf said.
Shaya added that being the elder statesmen of the team is a large part of why he feels the need to be a vocal leader.
With the lack of experience on this team, it would be easy for factions to develop, and for the competition of spots in the lineup to cause some heated moments. Fortunately for this year’s team, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.
“This is the first year it’s not cliquey. Everyone really works as a team,” Shaya said.
And he is not the only one to think so.
“We have nine good guys that have been working very hard and are very close together,” Michigan coach Mark Mees said. “I’m very excited about it.”
Right now the Wolverines are in the early weeks of the fall season. Players are working on their individual games as they try to earn spots in this year’s lineup. But Shaya was quick to note that despite the intense competition within the team during the fall season, it is all about peaking at the right time to help the team.
“This is for the Big Ten!” and “This is for Illinois!” are common reminders Shaya and Rolf pass on to the team during the more difficult portions of practice.
Anthony Jackson, Michael Rubin and David Anving will be representing the team this weekend at the ITA All-American Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn. While all three have been entered into the pre-qualifying tournament – meaning they will have to survive two tournaments just to make it to the main draw – Mees is confident that they can do it.
The Wolverines will be competing against from schools across the country, including Florida, Florida State and their Big Ten rivals Michigan State, Illinois and Ohio State. While the team is hoping to have a successful run through the tournament, the results can only add to an extremely exciting time for this young team.
“Any of the guys right now have a chance to step up and be a big part of the team.” Mees said. “Anthony will definitely be one we’re counting on.”
Shaya agrees with his coach.
“We lost big contributors,” Shaya said. But “everyone’s moving up in the lineup.”