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MEN’S TENNIS: Streaking Irish journey south to battle SMU

Kate Gales | Friday, April 1, 2005

Good things come in threes, and wins are always good things.The No. 29 Irish look to extend their winning streak to three games on a road trip to Dallas this weekend as they take on the No. 41 Mustangs of Southern Methodist University.”We’re excited to go to Dallas,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “It’s supposed to be 75 degrees and sunny.”As weather improved in South Bend, the Irish got a taste of what they would find in Dallas on the Mustangs’ outdoor courts. Although the Irish carry a more favorable ranking, SMU boasts a perennially competitive squad.”They’re a dangerous team,” Bayliss said. “They just lost a real close 5-2 match to Oklahoma State, who’s No. 10. … They had chances to really make it pretty darn competitive. I’m anticipating a tough match.”Notre Dame and SMU are 2-2 in the four-year history of the series, which Bayliss started because the Big East does not require round-robin play in the conference.”The way the series has gone, we’ve won the two matches in South Bend and they’ve won the two in Dallas,” he said. “Both were 4-3 matches, with the last match on the court [clinching the wins].”Bayliss anticipates a challenging match in the Lone Star State this Sunday.”We want another close-hard fought match and they’re pretty good,” he said. “Their team is predominantly international players and most of them are returning from last year. I think five of the six starters are back.”The Irish recovered from a difficult 6-1 loss to No. 2 Illinois on March 17 to win matches at Michigan and Purdue. The lineup has seen a number of changes this season, as the top spot has been back and forth between sophomore Stephen Bass and senior co-captain Brent D’Amico.”He had the best fall of anyone,” Bayliss said of Bass. “We have the type of team where our guys are pretty close to each other in ability. There’s not a great disparity … Stephen had to play some outstanding players early in the season and took some losses, and I think his confidence suffered a little bit.”Bayliss moved D’Amico into the top position but saw little change in the overall results of the match.”Stephen immediately started winning at two, and Brent encountered some of the same problems Stephen had,” Bayliss said. Although the lineups for this weekend are not set, Bass has occupied the No. 1 spot in the most recent matches. “We’ve had good solid results throughout our lineup all year, especially in singles,” Bayliss said. The coach does not plan to change the doubles combinations, although the lineup is always subject to change.The Irish will face the Mustangs at 1 pm.