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Men’s Tennis: Irish set to host Fallon tourney

Kate Grabarek | Friday, September 28, 2007

After a 22-1 showing in last year’s Tom Fallon Invitational, a new-look Irish will have to work hard to duplicate those results this weekend at the Eck Tennis Center.

Coach Bobby Bayliss will fill the holes in the lineup left by three impact seniors with a group of freshman standouts.

“We’re not sure who’s going to fill what spots in both singles and doubles,” Bayliss said. “We still need to find out what the team chemistry will be, and learn how to work with the new faces. We need to find this year’s team identity.”

But freshmen players can pose a dilemma for coaches.

“The good news is we have five freshmen who have a lot of enthusiasm and a want to work,” Bayliss said. “The bad news is that we have five freshman who are still learning, and we’re learning about them.”

The doubles lineup is a work in progress, and Bayliss said the players need to step up for the Irish to have a good season.

“There is a large lack of experience in our doubles lineup, especially with poaching and movement,” Bayliss said.

But the Irish do have some experienced players returning to this year’s squad. All-America senior captain Sheeva Parbhu returns to this year’s squad and should help the younger players adjust.

Bayliss said junior Brett Hegelson has the potential to be an All-American this year.

“I have essentially two No. 1 [players] in these two,” Bayliss said. “They played two and three singles last year, and did extremely well.”

In the Olympic Fields Invitational, which opened the season for the Irish two weeks ago, senior Andrew Roth rolled his ankle and is not expected to be in the lineup this weekend.

“We’re waiting on results from the orthopedic doctor, to let us know if he needs an MRI or what kind of treatment,” Bayliss said.

Even with the inexperienced team, Bayliss did not ease up on the schedule for the season.

“I am a firm believer in having a stronger schedule, and testing yourself,” Bayliss said. “We want to embrace the challenges. We will face with the tougher teams. We will get a lot of answers this weekend about what our team will look like for the rest of the season.”

Illinois and Ohio State will be among Notre Dame’s top competition this weekend. Illinois was an NCAA finalist last season.

Following the Invitational, the Irish will travel to the ITA All-American Championships beginning on Oct. 4 in Oklahoma.