ND MEN’S TENNIS: ND heads to Virginia to face No. 1 Cavaliers
Kate Gales | Friday, January 27, 2006
Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves.
The Irish adopted this as their motto for this season, and with the second match of the season coming against No. 1 Virginia, will see if their hard work can pay off with a victory in Richmond Today at 3 p.m.
“We know Virginia is good,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said. “They’re ranked No. 1 in the country … they lost to [No. 9] Pepperdine out there.”
The Irish are coming off a decisive 6-1 victory over regional rival Northwestern and a stellar fall season.
Last year, they lost 4-3 to the Cavaliers.
“The match was pretty competitive out there [last year],” Bayliss said. “It was 4-3, and we expect to play well and expect it to be a close match.”
The Irish have worked to improve their doubles play this week after struggling against the Wildcats.
“We weren’t satisfied with it against Northwestern,” Bayliss said.
However, singles have been a strength for the Irish this year despite the injury to junior Irackli Akhvlediani. Stephen Bass holds the No. 8 spot, Sheeva Parbhu is No. 14 and Eric Langenkamp stands at No. 65, with the team holding a No. 26 overall ranking. Although the early-season rankings reflect more on fall play, it is a confidence boost going into a match against the top-rated Cavaliers. UVA’s Treat Huey is No. 6, Somdev Devvarman is No. 10, Marko Miklo is No. 46 and Rylan Rizza is 54. Unranked Doug Stuart, who did not participate in many fall tournaments, holds the No. 2 spot, with Miklo at No. 5 on the team.
Bayliss said that the top four of the Cavaliers’ lineup are “pretty much interchangeable.”
They rotate four players into the No. 5 and No. 6 spots in singles as well.
“They’re all pretty good, we’re competitive with those guys,” Bayliss said. “We split those two matches last year 5 and 6 with them.”
The lineup is much like the Irish, who this year feature strength at the top of the lineup and depth in positions throughout. Although Barry King is unranked, he spent the fall semester at University College in Dublin and has insufficient data for rankings.
After last year’s record showing at the Country Club of Virginia (CCV) in Richmond, Bayliss agreed to play the match there again, making the travel schedule difficult when Notre Dame faces William & Mary on Sunday at 10 a.m.
For Bayliss, a Richmond native, the match is a homecoming of sorts.
“It’s played at the club where, when I was in grad school, I was an assistant pro at that club,” he said, adding that a number of people from the club and his high school class came out to support last season. “We probably had 1/3 of the crowd rooting for us, and the Notre Dame Club of Richmond got involved.”
He said that the club is a good venue for hundreds of spectators.
“The crowd there, it’s enthusiastic and vocal but not vindictive,” Bayliss said. “It’s not all college students, it’s a little bit of a wine and cheese club.”
However, the only pressure the team feels is from the big match waiting for them today. Bayliss said the team is confident.
“I’m sure they’re focused,” he said. “This team has been committed from the start. A group of them got together and almost all the guys playing were here last summer.”
All of the players were active over the summer, playing in tournaments at home or on campus.
“I think we came back this year with a sense of purpose and they have done an awful lot to make themselves as good as they can,” Bayliss said. “They’ve done all the little things … One of our team mottos is take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves … Then the ones you can’t anticipate don’t overwhelm you.”
The Irish take the courts at 3 p.m. today at the CCV and return home to take on William & Mary at 10 a.m. on Sunday.