MEN’S TENNIS: No. 1 seed Irish take on St. John’s
Kate Gales | Friday, April 22, 2005
A lot has changed in the Big East, but the strength of the Irish remains the same.
After taking the title last year, Notre Dame enters the Big East tournament as the top seed after finishing the regular season 16-7 and ranked No. 29.
“The field is a little bit weaker this year, as it will be for most of the sports that play in the Big East, because Miami and Virginia Tech are out and new schools haven’t come into the conference,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “It’s not as strong a field as it has been and it certainly affords us a better chance of winning than normal.”
Captain Brent D’Amico was injured in the final match of the regular season.
However, Bayliss put the senior on the roster, which had to be submitted prior to the tournament’s start.
“You have to turn in your lineup ahead of time and you can pull somebody out, but you can’t change the order,” Bayliss explained. “So you have to submit it-if you have an iffy player, say like Brent, you have to put him it at his normal spot and then you have to hope he can play.”
Eric Langen-kamp was also questionable for the Irish after he was unable to travel to the University of South Florida, the tournament’s venue, with the team due to illness. However, Bayliss is confident that Langenkamp is ready to play.
“We had a little scare,” he said. “Eric didn’t make the trip with us, he was hospitalized Tuesday evening with some sort of intestinal virus that has come and gone, and he flew up separately and practiced today – he looks good, I think he’s okay.”
The Irish take on St. John’s after riding a bye into the semifinals, as the Red Storm defeated Georgetown Thursday. Bayliss had the opportunity to watch the first-round game.
“St. John’s won decisively and we will play them tomorrow at 9 a.m.,” Bayliss said. “So we pretty much know what we’re going to face and how it kind of lines up, and it’s just a matter of getting gout and getting it done.”
Bayliss is confident in the team’s chances in the tournament.
“If we can win the doubles point and start off in control, I think they’re going to realize they have to do something special to beat us,” he said.
“The second key is just to play within ourselves. It’s the end of the year, you’re not going to invent any new shots … I think staying with the fundamentals has worked for us all year really will be key.”
The transition to muggy Tampa was Bayliss’ main concern, but the Irish arrived in Florida on Wednesday and managed two days of practice before today.
“We got in yesterday,” Bayliss said. “The biggest thing is just to get used to the heat, we’ve had two days-we’re pretty acclimated.”
The Irish began defending their title at 9 a.m. today.