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Men’s Tennis: Team awaits announcement of tourney field

Kate Gales | Wednesday, May 3, 2006

It is a time for waiting, but the Irish are ready right now.

The NCAA Tournament field will be announced tonight, and the No. 18 Irish have an outside chance at being named a host site as a top-16 seed.

“An interesting wrinkle has come up,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said. “[No. 8] Illinois is not going to be allowed to host … that’s one of the penalties the NCAA has if you didn’t get rid of your Native American mascots.”

No. 17 Florida State is just 0.55 points ahead of the Irish in the computer rankings. Notre Dame beat Florida State 4-3 in a head-to-head match on March 14.

“There’s still a very slight chance that we would host, but I doubt it,” Bayliss said.

The team is unable to start preparing for specific matchups, but they have been training hard nonetheless.

“We don’t know whether we’ll be here or somewhere else,” Bayliss said. “I’ve gotten a number of phone calls from coaches all over the country who are trying to figure [it] out.

“I haven’t wasted one bit of sleep over it or given it one bit of thought … it’s something I have no control over.”

Because of the long break between the Big East tournament – which ended with an Irish loss to Louisville in the finals – and the NCAA tournament, Bayliss has been working the team harder.

“We’re continuing to try to emphasize a stronger doubles presence,” Bayliss said. “Also, we’ve been playing more competitive sets than normal because during the season you’re competing a lot, and you need to go back to fund all the time. But at this time we’ll be almost three weeks without competing.”

The loss in the Big East tournament may have motivated the Irish going into the postseason.

“There were a lot of ramifications there, not just the Big East title,” Bayliss said. “It’s hopefully a good lesson for us next year. I think there’s a renewed sense of purpose and urgency in what we’re doing and I’m pretty confident that we’ll play well in the NCAA tournament.”

Notes:

u Captain Patrick Buchanan is one of five Notre Dame recipients of the Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar award. Buchanan, who recently applied to medical school, received the distinction based on athletic, academic and community service excellence.

“They were looking for people who had out GPA’s but who had also excelled in other areas, both athletics and in community service, and Patrick’s certainly been a great representative in that sense,” Bayliss said.

u Freshman Brett Helgeson was named to the Big East All-Tournament team, as was the doubles duo of Ryan Keckley and Eric Langenkamp. The pair is No. 28 nationally and hoping for an NCAA bid.

“Maybe this is a little bit of consolation for them, although I doubt any of our guys are worried about post-season awards,” Bayliss said. “I’m sure each of them would have traded it for a win over Louisville.”