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Men’s Tennis: ND looks to extend streak against MSU

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, March 28, 2007

No. 5 Notre Dame will try to extend its longest winning streak in five years against rival Michigan State in East Lansing today at 2:30 p.m.

The Irish, who are fresh off a dominant 7-0 victory over Purdue this weekend, have not lost in their last 10 matches.

But Michigan State is no slouch. The Spartans are coming off a recent double-header against Bradley and Valparaiso in which they won 7-0 and 5-2, respectively, putting their overall record at 9-10.

While Michigan State’s record is not quite up to par with Notre Dame’s 16-2 mark, the Irish have struggled against the Spartans in the past. Two years ago, an Irish team ranked in the top 25 barely escaped East Lansing, having to win four three-setters to claim a victory.

But the outcome of today’s match may depend on factors other than normal tennis skills. The weather report in East Lansing is forecasting rain with a high of 50 degrees. If the weather is as predicted, the Irish will be forced to play indoors again after starting their outdoor circuit. The indoor game has a faster pace with a different rhythm than the outdoor matches for which the Irish have been preparing.

“I think the biggest thing is where the match will be played – will it be inside or outside,” Irish coach Bob Bayliss said.

There are also a few of interesting matchups within the contest – Notre Dame’s No. 1 singles player, national No. 8 Stephen Bass, barely won in a closely contested tiebreaker last year against Michigan State’s Nick Rinks. Rinks has continued to play well this season as well. He is the reigning Big Ten player of the week and has won 12 consecutive sets dating back to March 10.

Another match of interest is the No. 1 doubles matchup between Notre Dame’s Sheeva Parbhu and Ryan Keckley and Michigan State’s Rinks and Adam Monich.

“They serve big and are very aggressive around the net, and they have beaten us more than we have beaten them in the past,” Bayliss said of the matchup.

Bayliss said he feels there is no added pressure on the Irish because of their current win streak, and his main focus in on leaving East Lansing with a win.