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Irish ready to face Wisconsin

Kate Gales | Friday, February 13, 2004

The Irish remain at home this weekend, as they face the University of Wisconsin Badgers in a contest Sunday at noon.The unranked 2-1 Badgers boast the nation’s No. 8 doubles team of senior David Hippee and junior Alex Kasarov.However, the No. 49 Irish enjoyed a week-long rest after a commanding victory over No. 53 Purdue last weekend. Wisconsin is scheduled to play at Western Michigan on Saturday, facing Notre Dame on the last leg of its road trip.Head coach Bobby Bayliss has been working particularly hard with the doubles side of the game.”We worked on doubles a lot [this week], and they’re still a work in progress,” he said. “We may change up the combinations to give more punch and balance.”Despite a talented team overall for the Irish, the doubles teams have seen some difficulty this year.”We feel that we can do better than we’ve done so far, so we’re working on fine tuning the doubles,” Bayliss said.The team is not intimidated by the Hippee/Kasarov duo.”They’re good,” Bayliss said. “They beat the No. 1 team in the country earlier this year, which helps their ranking a lot, but I don’t think they’re out of reach.”Luckily, senior tri-captain Luis Haddock will return to the lineup after missing last weekend’s match to play in the Davis Cup for his native Puerto Rico. “He practiced with us yesterday, and it’s great to have him back,” Bayliss said of his No. 1 singles player. “He had a little bit of a hard time with the bounce yesterday after playing on different courts … but was fine by the end.”Haddock lost a close match to Mark Merklein of the Bahamas in a tiebreaker third set in the Davis Cup. His freshman doubles partner, Ryan Keckley, is of questionable status for Sunday after sustaining an ankle injury against Duke two weeks ago.”It’s not impossible that he could play some doubles, but I would guess he is a little doubtful at this point,” said Bayliss. “I would think that he is going to be ready at least for doubles the following weekend.”The Irish face a tough stretch of five matches in nine days, starting with a visit to Northwestern on Feb. 21.”Really, what we want is to be ready for that stretch of matches,” Bayliss said.