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Irish go on the road to face No. 8 Duke

Kate Gales | Friday, January 30, 2004

On paper, calling Sunday’s road match with Duke “tough” seems like an understatement.The team is ranked No. 8, with three-time All-American Phillip King leading the way.His number two, Ludovic Walter, ranked No. 7 nationally in singles with a lethal 130-mph serve, might be a “little challenging.”Walter and partner Jacob Zimmerman are ranked No. 2 in the country after winning the ITA National Indoor Doubles tournament in November. This could be disheartening to a lesser team. But Irish coach Bobby Bayliss is far from giving up.”Over the years, we’ve played pretty well in this situation,” Bayliss said. Two years ago, Notre Dame traveled to Duke in January and beat the top-10 Blue Devils squad. “It’s a big challenge but we’re optimistic, and I think we’ll play a great match,” he said. “They’re better than that, probably,” said Bayliss of Duke’s No. 8 ranking. “They have a chance to be a Final Four team this year – I expect them to be one of the very top teams in the country.” The No. 49 Irish are 3-1 (1-0 Big East).King is unranked after sitting out the fall season. However, he played professionally before entering college, taking expense money but no prizes. “He entered Duke as a second-semester freshman having done real well professionally,” Bayliss said. “He was one of the top 250, maybe 300 players in the world before he went to college … he’s extremely quick and we’re yet to have any real luck with him.”With Walter, anybody who plays him will have to expect to return a 130-mph serve.”The trio of Luis Haddock, Matthew Scott and Brent D’Amico will prepare to take these top players and their teammates. D’Amico sat out against Illinois State this past weekend with tightness in his forearm, but he is expected to be back against the Blue Devils.Scott, who spent the winter sidelined with a stress fracture in his leg, is still not at full strength.”Matt’s having some problems with his foot, which is something we have to be pretty concerned about, but at this point we’re hoping he will be able to go,” Bayliss said of Scott, ranked No. 68 in the nation.After Tuesday’s match against No. 10 Kentucky was canceled due to weather conditions, the team was able to focus on beating the Blue Devils. The team will be able to watch Duke face Texas A&M, who beat the Irish last Saturday.”We’re having a pretty good week of practice, we played some competitive sets yesterday and we worked hard in doubles,” Bayliss said Tuesday night. “We’re getting into that time of the year when things heat up.”