Stars and stripes briefly: Wheaton named interim

Minneapolis native David Wheaton was ranked 12th in the world in 1991.

by Aaron Blake

Minnesota men’s tennis senior Avery Ticer wore the stars-and-stripes headband just like his hero David Wheaton did in the early 1990s.

On Wednesday, Wheaton again exercised some influence over what Ticer will wear.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi named the former professional tennis player and Minneapolis native Wheaton the Gophers’ interim coach Wednesday.

“That’s a new one for me – ‘coach Wheaton,’ ” the 13-year pro said. “This is a challenge for me. This is a lot different than anything I’ve done before.”

Wheaton takes over for volunteer assistant Zachary Remis, who had been coaching the team since coach David Geatz and assistant coach Adam Cohen were suspended with pay Feb. 18 for possible NCAA rules violations.

Wheaton, 35, was ranked 12th in the world for a period in 1991. He won the Grand Slam Cup in Munich and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon that year.

Recently, he has taken up writing, hosting a radio talk show and inspirational speaking. He has a book set to be released in April called, “University of Destruction – Your Game Plan for Spiritual Victory on Campus.”

He also serves on the board of directors of the United States Tennis Association.

But he’s never coached, and he said he’s just giving it a shot. He also doesn’t have a college degree, meaning he couldn’t become the team’s next coach in the event Geatz doesn’t return.

“Part of the excitement for me is I’ve been on one side of the game as a player, I’ve been experiencing the administrative side of the game with the USTA board and now I’m experiencing it as a coach,” Wheaton said.

Wheaton went to Stanford, but his brother, Mark Wheaton, and sister, Marnie Wheaton, played at Minnesota in the late ’70s.

One of his first orders is establishing more of a team mentality by telling players they all need to dress the same at practice.

Senior captain Ticer said practice Wednesday was a bit different from in the past, with David Wheaton emphasizing winning points rather than technique.

But on the whole, David Wheaton said he’s not looking to stray too far from what the players had been accustomed to under Geatz and Cohen, and Ticer said the players are just happy to have someone who was once ranked 12th in the world instructing them.

“I’m excited for the young guys to see how a professional does things and to really get a sense of taking responsibility for their own games,” Ticer said. “And that’s the first thing he talked about.”

Roehrig is frosh of year

Minnesota women’s track multievent athlete Liz Roehrig was named Big Ten freshman of the year Wednesday.

Roehrig won the pentathlon at the weekend’s Big Ten Indoor Championships.