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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Getting back on track

    UA tennis player Jay Goldman works out with team trainer Adam Garmon in the training room of McKale Center on Tuesday to strengthen his back after injuring it March 22 against ASU. Goldman, a freshman, hopes to be back in action this weekend against UCLA and USC or the following weekend against ASU.
    UA tennis player Jay Goldman works out with team trainer Adam Garmon in the training room of McKale Center on Tuesday to strengthen his back after injuring it March 22 against ASU. Goldman, a freshman, hopes to be back in action this weekend against UCLA and USC or the following weekend against ASU.

    In a match against ASU, the last thing an Arizona team wants is for one of its star players to get injured.

    This nightmare became reality for the No. 59 Arizona men’s tennis team March 22, when freshman Jay Goldman injured his back at the home rivalry match. His absence has taken an expensive toll on his team, his family and himself.

    “”Before our match against ASU, I was feeling funky pains in the lower left part of my back, but I thought I was OK,”” Goldman said. “”In doubles, my back got worse. By the time I got into singles, I was in a lot of pain, but I played that entire match through.””

    Having gone undefeated (27-0) his junior year of high school and being the No. 19 recruit in the nation, it seemed almost nobody could stand in Goldman’s way. But he overlooked one body that would hurt him the most – his own.

    Goldman described the bones in his lower left back as rubbing together from all the “”torqueing”” he was doing. The team trainers were even worried about a potential stress fracture due to the amount of the inflammation.

    “”I took a lot of tests – it wasn’t a stress fracture, thank God – but they said that I’d have to rest or it could turn into something more serious. That’s the last thing I want to happen,”” Goldman said.

    It doesn’t help the situation that Goldman’s father, Dan, and mother, Pat, had previously booked a trip from Boston to Arizona in hopes of watching their son play. So far, they’ve cheered on two Arizona matches – neither featuring Jay.

    “”It would have been a lot nicer if we could see him competing, but we would have come out no matter what,”” Dan said. “”We’d rather he was well and he was playing but it was good to come out here and visit him and watch the Arizona Wildcats compete. They’re a very talented team.””

    With his parents in town, a bittersweet taste lingers in Jay’s mouth.

    “”It’s good to visit with them because I don’t get to see them that much,”” Jay said. “”But ultimately, they came out to watch me play. I wanted them to watch me here though, since they’ve never seen me play for Arizona. So I think we’d all be happier if I was on the court.””

    Instead of getting excited to watch Jay on the court, his parents’ biggest daytime dilemmas have consisted of which Tucson sites to see and which trails to hike.

    “”It’s a nice change for us to come out from 36-degree weather to 84-degree weatherÿ- that part’s not hard to take,”” Dan said. “”Hopefully we’ll bring some of your Arizona sunshine back with us to Massachusetts. It’s been a long winter.””

    Don’t get the wrong impression, though. Jay’s parents may have been making the most out of their trip, even flirting with the idea of hiking the Sabino Canyon trails, Dan said he and Pat would love nothing more than to see their son compete in a match.

    “”I’m hoping that Jay will be able to be up for some competition before too long. I know he’s going crazy not being able to play,”” Dan said. “”But we’re glad that his injury doesn’t appear to be serious.””

    While his parents are enjoying the Tucson weather during their stay, which ends Sunday, Jay has lost sleep because of his altered daily routine.

    “”The last time I picked up a racket was in the match against ASU on March 22. I haven’t gone to practice or anything,”” he said. “”I’ve played for so many years, that I get restless when I’m not doing some sort of physical activity. It’s not just the tennis, it’s the gym, it’s the fitness, everything that goes along with it. When I’m not doing all of that, I don’t know what to do with myself.””

    Jay’s absence has made a tremendous impact on his coaches and teammates, with or without the acknowledgement.

    “”With Jay out, we weren’t very competitive against Cal, Stanford and Washington – they were matches we almost won – so it just shows that without Jay, it obviously hurts,”” said head coach Tad Berkowitz. “”But the guys have been doing a good job trying to step up with him being out.””

    Despite the Wildcats’ intentions to excel through their Jay-less phase, one aspect of the match continues to throb and stick out like a sore thumb – doubles.

    Senior Claudio Christen and Goldman made a mean pair on the No. 1 court. They were often nationally ranked on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association charts.

    Now Christen suffers from a frequently changing doubles partner, and the unfamiliarity that comes along with it.

    “”Jay and I played really well together, but since he’s been gone, my doubles partner has changed twice, from Jay to Pat (Metham) but then he got injured, too,”” Christen said. “”Now I’m playing with Andy (Carrasco). It’s kind of tough getting used to the new partners.

    “”We have a good team, but it’s still hard not having a player like Jay,”” Christen added. “”I think we’re all looking forward to him
    being back.””

    Goldman held a racket and ball in his hands for the first time yesterday since the injury and the question that loiters, is whether he will be able to compete this weekend against UCLA and USC.

    Goldman has already set his sights on possibly playing doubles this weekend or the following weekend against ASU at the latest.

    “”It’s just the worst feeling because I know I should be in the game. It’s emotionally aggravating,”” he said. “”I feel really bad for the guys because I want to be a part of helping UA tennis do as well as it can. This has been a very humbling experience for me, but I don’t want to sit another match out this season.””

    While Goldman eagerly plans for his comeback, Berkowitz pencils in a late recovery.

    “”I’m not getting my hopes up, honestly. The trainers said they’d like to have him back by the (Pacific 10 Conference) Championships (on April 27),”” Berkowitz said. “”We’d like to have him earlier, if possible, but we don’t want to jump the gun. If the trainers and Jay say he’s ready to go, then we’ll go from there.””

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