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Irish hope to end home season on positive note

Kate Gales | Friday, April 8, 2005

After a disappointing loss to Southern Methodist University last weekend, the Irish are hoping not to drop the ball against Ball State, who visit Notre Dame on Saturday for the mens’ final home match of the season.

“I think like most seasons, we’ve had ups and downs,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Last Sunday was a down, but I think we’ve got a chance to finish strong and in the top 25 – that’s our goal.”

As the season waned, the Irish have had trouble building momentum, although Bayliss remains confident in the ability of his young players.

“It starts again – it starts with Ball State,” Bayliss said, pointing out that the Cardinals dropped a close decision to a highly-ranked Louisville squad on Wednesday. “We know they’ve played us 4-3 the last two years, last year we won the last match. … Theyre a pretty good team, [and] they’re as well coached as anyone in the country, so we expect to have our hands full.”

However, the Irish are looking forward to the challenge.

“That’s kind of the way you want it at the end of the year … to make yourself as viable as you can for the NCAA tournament,” Bayliss said.

The Irish are healthy and ready to finish the season as strongly as they began.

“The core of people that we’ve been playing are probably healthy and will play,” Bayliss said.

Brent D’Amico is expected to return to action after sitting out against SMU. According to Bayliss, he practiced on Thursday and looked “strong.”

Bayliss expects the doubles point to be a challenge, as the Cardinals defeated a top-notch Illinois team who beat the Irish in March.

“They are very strong in doubles, they won the doubles point from Illinois,” he said. “We’ll have to play exceptionally well to be competitive in doubles.”

Overall, Bayliss considers his team ready to finish the season on a high note.

“It’s a great group of guys and we’ve fought pretty hard,” Bayliss said. “I think its going to be a great contest, a terrific chance for people to spend a nice Saturday afternoon. I promise you it’s going to be a competitive match. They’re very scrappy and they’ve got some guys with weapons.”