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Men’s Tennis: Irish will host Spartans at Eck

Kate Gales | Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Irish look to wrap up their longest homestand of the season with a 4-0 record at 4 p.m. today as they face Michigan State at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

The No. 31 Irish improved to 5-4 with three straight victories at home over the weekend.

“I think everybody was tired Sunday with two matches, and the day off was good,” head coach Bobby Bayliss said. “I think we’re ready to go.”

The Spartans are tied for No. 75 nationally and boast a 4-4 record coming into today’s match.

“I’m very aware of who they have and what their tendencies are,” Bayliss said.

Michigan State has a strong doubles team, including Nick Rinks and Adam Monich, who have lost only one match this season – to Ball State’s Joe Epkey and Matt Baccarani, ranked No. 4 nationally.

Rinks is also a dangerous singles player.

“He was in the final four players [of the 2005 ITA Midwest Regional Championships] so we know he’s a good player,” Bayliss said.

Last year, the Irish earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory in East Lansing.

“Their courts are pretty fast and we’ve always had trouble playing there,” Bayliss said. “We’re certainly more comfortable playing them here.”

Bayliss and associate head coach Todd Doebler took advantage of the depth in the Irish lineup this weekend, trying new variations throughout singles and doubles.

The results were clear: two 6-1 victories and a 7-0 shutout to cap off the weekend against Bradley.

“I think it was more of a team effort,” Bayliss said. “Just looking at the scores, different people struggled a little bit to win their matches in one match, but then played much better in a different one.”

The team has exhibited strong play throughout the lineup, including the top two positions.

“Sheeva [Parbhu] and Stephen [Bass] have to carry the load at one and two,” Bayliss said. “They alternated positions over the weekend, they both found ways to win when they didn’t always have their ‘A’ game.”

The rest of the lineup wasn’t far behind.

“Brett [Helgeson] and Barry [King] and even Ryan [Keckley] have played at close to the same level,” he said.” I thought Eric played a strong match against Wisconsin, finishing the match on a much more aggressive note than it started … [and] Ryan Keckley continued his dominance down low in the lineup.”

Changes in the doubles lineup have also been effective.

“Andrew Roth’s really been a sparkplug for us at third doubles,” Bayliss said.

The Irish hope to continue their strong performance today against the Spartans.