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Men’s Tennis: Young squad welcomes Big Ten power Indiana to the Eck

Kate Gales | Friday, January 21, 2005

It might be muffled by the steady thwack of racquets, but the Eck Tennis Pavilion is starting to make some noise in the national tennis arena.At 2-0, the young Irish squad is relatively untested, entering the season ranked at No. 34, and could get a test from Saturday’s opponent, No. 62 Indiana who has a chance to finish at or near the top of the Big Ten Conference.”I know we’ll really be challenged because they have one of the better teams in the Big 10 this year,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “They return pretty much the whole team, and they’ve added a really strong freshman – I expect a very, very tough match.”Last year, the Irish opened the season with a 6-1 win at Indiana. However, the match was closer than the final score appears.”I know that they’re very strong in the doubles [this year],” Bayliss said. “We eeked out the doubles point last year-that match was really in the balance last year.”Five of the six doubles matches went into a third set, with Notre Dame taking victories in four of those.”We won all the close matches,” Bayliss said. “I’ll settle for that again, but I know it’ll be a very tight match.”Last weekend, the Irish improved to 2-0 with wins over Toledo and Illinois State. The Irish dominated competition in both matches as Bayliss has worked the lineup in a variety of forms.No. 77 Stephen Bass started in the top spot for the Irish last weekend, with No. 113 Barry King second. The two sophomores are followed by co-captain Brent D’Amico at third and freshman Sheeva Parbhu at fourth.There is less certainty in the fifth and sixth spots of the lineup, where Irackli Akhvlediani, Ryan Keckley, Patrick Buchanan and Eric Langenkamp have shown promise and the ability to win in tough competition.With doubles, Bayliss expects to stick with Keckley and D’Amico at No. 1 and Langenkamp and Parbhu at No. 2. The No. 3 duo of Bass and King has been tweaked this week as Bayliss tries new combinations. He tried to combine King with Buchanan and Bass with his older brother Jimmy, but a dominant third has yet to emerge among the teams.”I think it’ll be a great match to see,” Bayliss said.The match will begin at 11 a.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Saturday.