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Men’s Tennis: Buckeyes come to Eck for golden showdown

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 24, 2006

The Irish are hungry for a big win, and Ohio State’s visit to the Eck Tennis Pavilion tonight presents a golden opportunity for an upset.

No. 26 Notre Dame will take on the Buckeyes, who are No. 11 in the ITA national team standings, this afternoon at 4 p.m. in their designated “Gold Game” and last home match until April.

“We need a big win and this certainly would qualify as one,”Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “This would really help us get over the hump and feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”

The Irish are on a five-match winning streak, including four wins over Big Ten opponents.

The team stands at 7-4 on the season, with losses to Virginia, Illinois, Duke and UNC.

“If you’re going to try to play the best teams in the country, which we do, you have to make it work, so we had to play more matches early than I would have liked,” Bayliss said. “But we certainly had our opportunities – we’ve had a chance to win every match we’ve played except one.”

The Irish are coming off a 5-2 win at Michigan on Feb. 18, giving them six days off – one of their longest breaks of the season.

“It’s long in the sense that we had probably been playing too much, but we had to play some of the teams we played at times that we could simply because of the different conference schedules,” Bayliss said.

Bayliss said, the Buckeyes are traditionally one of the Big Ten’s strongest teams.

“We have lost consecutive 4-3 matches to Ohio State at least the last two years,” Bayliss said.

In 2004, the team lost without co-captain Luis Haddock playing at the Eck Tennis Pavilion, and lost again in Ohio in 2005. Both matches were decided in the final match on the courts.

“We played a great match and just came up a little bit short,” Bayliss said of the 2005 matchup.

The recent ascension of Ohio State in the national rankings means that this is an important match for improving Notre Dame’s national recognition. The team is 9-0 in its best start since the 1988-89 season.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Bayliss said. “I have the utmost regard for their coach, who does a terrific job with his players and they always play hard.”

Ohio State is 3-0 against teams ranked in the Top 20. The Irish are 0-4.

The Buckeyes return five starter’s from last year’s team, which finished the season in the Top 25. Scott Green and Ross Wilson are ranked No. 1 nationally in doubles.

“They’re significantly better than they were a year ago,” Bayliss said.

In fall tournament play, Sheeva Parbhu – No. 28 in the national singles rankings – beat Devin Mullings at the ITA Midwest Championships. Millings had defeated Brett Helgeson earlier in the tournament.

Joining Parbhu in the most recent singles rankings are Stephen Bass at No. 17 and Helgeson, who debuted at No. 60.

Notes:

u Bayliss said the team will be giving away a PlayStation 2 and a football autographed by Charlie Weis at their match at 4 p.m.

“I think the players will be fired up no matter what,” Bayliss said. “It’s a great rivalry, there’s a lot of mutual respect and I don’t think it would be hard to get up for Ohio State playing in Alaska. But to have it be the Gold Game with, hopefully, an enthusiastic crowd will make a big difference.”