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MEN’S TENNIS: No. 9 Irish take five-game win streak on road

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, February 9, 2007

Upsets aren’t anything foreign to Notre Dame and Wisconsin. The question is, can the Badgers get another one this weekend?

The No. 9 Irish come off a successful three-match weekend at home where they defeated No. 13 Florida State and Toledo 5-2 and 7-0, respectively. The Irish also upset then No. 8 Duke 6-1 to further their record to 5-1.

“It was a great weekend for us but it’s kind of like winning the first inning of a 9-inning game,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Our season is not a sprint it’s a marathon.”

Wisconsin is a clear underdog against Notre Dame, even after upsetting No. 10 Miami 4-3 on the road Monday. The match was tied at three with only the No. 2 singles match left to play. Badger junior Nolan Polley dropped the first set 3-6 to Josh Cohen, but rallied to take the next two sets 6-4, 7-6 for victory.

“For an indoor team to go outdoors and play a match like that with no preparation is a pretty impressive feat,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said. “So we certainly won’t be caught unaware.”

The Irish have dominated in the past against the Badgers – Notre Dame is 42-16 against Wisconsin in all-time series. The Badgers have struggled against the Irish in recent years, failing to produce a win in their last fifteen meetings – Notre Dame defeated Wisconsin 6-1 at home last year.

Notre Dame will look to continue to dominate in doubles play, Bayliss said. The Irish took the double point in both matches against Toledo and Duke to take the 1-0 lead early. The team will look to gain that advantage again in Madison.

“It helps so much to start off with that doubles point in hand,” Bayliss said. “The momentum that it gives you, particularly on the road, puts you in a position where you feel like really have a chance to win the match.”

A win against Wisconsin will give the Irish the consistency that Bayliss said the team has been looking for. Notre Dame upset Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ first loss, who finished the season No. 4, last year. But the team did not see the desired results for the rest of the season. Although they won the Big East Championship and finished 19-9, losing to top-seeded Georgia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, just playing in the postseason was not good enough. Bayliss said that senior captain Stephen Bass along with fellow classmates Barry King and Ryan Keckley have really aided the Irish in their quest for success this year.

“I think the senior leadership has been extraordinary this year,” Bayliss said.

Notre Dame will look to build off its success as they head to Wisconsin Friday night to prepare for Sunday. Bayliss said the team would have to make an adjustment to Wisconsin’s slower courts will be a trial for Notre Dame but that the practice time Saturday will help.

Bayliss expects Wisconsin to be a challenging team, and welcomes the opportunity.

“It’s going to be a good opportunity for us because in the next rankings Wisconsin is going to go way up having beat a top-10 team,” he said.

Deirdre Krasula

dkrasula@nd.edu