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Men’s Tennis: Irish try to clinch No. 1 seed

Kate Gales | Thursday, April 13, 2006

A year is a long time, but the Irish remember Louisville.

On May 14 of last year, then-No. 32 Notre Dame fell 4-1 to the Cardinals, ranked No. 33 at the time.

Sheeva Parbhu had Notre Dame’s only victory, and Ryan Keckley and Barry King took one doubles match.

Almost a year later, the Cardinals will face the Irish again, this time at the Courtney Tennis Center today at 4 p.m. in the last match of Notre Dame’s regular season.

“I would think the guys remember that match,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We went away feeling that they had played very well and we had not played a good match. I don’t think many of our players felt they had given a very good accounting of themselves. I’m confident we’re going to be motivated.”

The Irish are No. 17 in the national rankings with a 14-7 record, while Louisville is No. 29 with a record of 15-6. The Cardinals are 1-0 in Big East play, and this will be the first conference match for the Irish.

“The winner gets the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament,” Bayliss said. “If the Big East Tournament is rained out, the highest remaining seed in the tournament gets the NCAA bid.”

Although both the Irish and Cardinals are virtual locks for the postseason, a Big East tournament win is a good way to build momentum before the NCAAs. Despite Notre Dame’s higher ranking, Bayliss knows Louisville will provide tough competition.

“They play great doubles and their different players have different styles but most of the top part of their lineup they play good quick strike tennis,” Bayliss said. “They’re big and strong and aggressive … and their lower lineup is very, very consistent.”

The Irish are coming off a 5-2 win over Southern Methodist University, which junior Ryan Keckley missed due to illness.

The standout doubles player has been crucial to getting points in the singles lineup.

“It certainly helps our comfort level [to have him back],” Bayliss said. “He’s had the best record on the team all year and he’s been a money player for us. It’s got to be reassuring to have him back in the saddle.”

The match is the final of the regular season for the Irish and also the final regular-season match for seniors Patrick Buchanan and Eric Langenkamp.

Bayliss plans to thank the seniors for the contribution, but wants the team to stay focused.

“I’m confident we’re going to be motivated,” Bayliss said. “I never know how we’re going to play, but I think we’re certainly going to have a certainly high effort level.”