Sunday, February 29, 2004

XU tennis players near singles mark


College update

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Nobody on the Xavier tennis team said it outright, but senior Kate Weightman heard through the grapevine that she was within reach of the school career singles record for victories.

So she went home, booted up the Internet, called her mom and started searching the team Web site.

"When I found it, we were like, 'Whoa,' " Weightman said. "I didn't realize I played so many matches at this school."

Weightman's singles record is 76-35. She's three wins shy of tying the mark set by Heidi Pacella (79-30) set from 1992-1996, and with half a season to go, chances are good that Weightman will claim the title.

Enter Lauren Clary, the Musketeer's No. 1 singles player. Clary is a junior. Clary's career singles record is 73-18. In addition to the half-season that remains, Clary will have an entire year to lay waste to the career singles record.

And that's just the beginning of the good things happening for Xavier women's tennis.

The Muskies have rocketed to a 9-1 start, losing only to Miami University on Feb. 22. Besides the talent at the top, coach Jim Brockhoff is excited about the skills of all his players, including a couple of standout freshmen.

Notre Dame Academy graduate Jackie Vilines, who has twice been named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, is 16-4 in singles and 6-3 in doubles with three different partners. Kate Lohner is 8-2 in singles and 13-5 in doubles, also with three different partners.

The rest of the players - Stephanie Bauer, Kristen Clary, Alicia Papa, Sarah Potts and Emily Tuchscherer - are so loaded, the pre-match challengers are sometimes so close, they're uncomfortable to call.

Brockhoff isn't counting his chickens yet, but he has a hunch this could be the year Xavier brings home its first Atlantic 10 title. But more than tennis championships, he likes to talk about his players' smarts.

Book smarts.

"We have the highest GPA out of 15 (Xavier) teams," Brockhoff said. "When we recruit (players), we really look for someone who's academically strong. Ninety-nine percent of these kids know when to put their education first, and when to have a good time."

The team's fall collective GPA is 3.69. Brockhoff makes sure his players are prepared for class, even if it comes at tennis' expense. That's why something like a career singles record slipped his mind, until the sports information department shared the news.

"Our number one goal every year is obviously to do well as a team. But the emphasis is on academics," said Lauren Clary, who boasts a 3.9 GPA.

Clary recently heard "something about a record" she and Weightman were near breaking. She'll be the first to congratulate Weightman when she topples it, and will be the last to bring it up next year when she surpasses it.

Should Weightman win four more singles matches, she imagines she'll feel less pressure. Now that she knows about it, she's anxious for the time she can "look back at the record and say, 'I did that.' "

Xavier is heading into a meaty Spring Break schedule in Florida before returning for some A-10 play. The team hosts crosstown rival Cincinnati on March 17.

With all the big matches ahead of them, Brockhoff never saw reason to fuss about a couple of records.

"I never talked about it (specifically)," Brockhoff said. "I've always just said that I thought someone might break it, but I never dwelled on it."

Others

Miami senior forward Colleen Day was named Mid-American Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week after leading the RedHawks in a 10-game winning streak. Day, who has a 3.84 GPA, averaged 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.0 assists in victories at Ohio University and Central Michigan.

• Miami freshman Kyle Melling was named the Mid-American Conference Male Swimmer of the Week after placing third in the 200-breaststroke (2:12.77) and 400IM (4:14.39) at the Midwest Conference Classic last week. Sophomore Ellen Koch was named the conference's Female Swimmer of the Week after winning the 200 IM (2:09.46) and 100 Butterfly (58.07) at the Midwest Classic.

• Wilmington College junior forward Deon Short (Mt. Healthy) was named the Ohio Athletic Conference Co-Player of the Week. The 6-4 junior averaged 27 points and five rebounds, shooting 18-of-29 from the field and 15-of-18 from the free-throw line. For the season, Short is averaging 16.8 points and a team-high five rebounds.

• The Mid-American Conference announced its first East Division Player and Pitchers of the Week for the 2004, and both are from Miami University: junior catcher John Slone (St. Xavier) and freshman pitcher Keith Weiser (Talawanda).

Slone, who was an All-MAC Second Team and all-tournament selection last season, led the RedHawks with a .467 (7-for-15) batting average in their three-game series against Florida.

• Slone's two-out double in the top of the ninth inning Feb. 20 led to Miami's 9-8 come-from-behind victory over Florida. Weiser struck out three batters and allowed zero hits en route to his first career victory.

• Loyola-Chicago junior guard Ciara Henderson (Boone County) was named the Horizon League Player of the Week after becoming the school's all-time leader in 3-pointers (176). She also averaged 22 points and 4.5 assists in two wins last week.

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E-mail srussell@enquirer.com




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