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Men’s Tennis: Team depends on young talent to continue recent success

Kate Grabarek | Thursday, September 18, 2008

Notre Dame will try to continue its success of recent years despite losing two of their top three players from last season – Sheeva Parbhu and Andrew Roth.

“Prospects for this season revolve around many of our younger guys,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We lost significant experience with the graduation of Sheeva Parbhu and Andrew Roth. The gap will, by necessity, be filled with players unaccustomed to playing at No. 2-3, whether they be juniors who did not play much a year ago, others who played in lower positions, and freshmen who are new to the scene entirely.”

The Irish are coming off their second straight Big East championship and return last year’s No. 1 Brett Helgeson, who will try to lead the squad to the title again this season.

Bayliss said his team is deeper than it was a year ago, but he cannot expect anyone to replace Parbhu, who left with All-American credentials.

Bayliss, who signed a multi-year contract with the University earlier this month, is entering his 22 years at the helm of the Irish.

After completing its training regimen, the team is preparing to open the season at the Michigan Invitational on Sept. 19.

“This fall we have begun a weightlifting and conditioning program,” Bayliss said. “The training is primarily to guarantee healthy bodies and has been very successful in the past. It combines strength work with running and stretching. Last week we began formal practice, which has combined match play, drilling, and tactical strategic dynamics.”

Bayliss said many of the team’s matches this season will be decided by the doubles matchups, which were also crucial in many of the team’s victories last season.

Bayliss feels his team has had a lot of good intrasquad competition early in the season.

“We have several great returners in Brett Helgeson, Dan Stahl and David Anderson,” Bayliss said. “On the other side, Tyler Davis and a few others are getting to the net well, so that makes for some interesting confrontations. Casey Watt, Matt Johnson and Niall Fitzgerald all have good all-court skills, so we can throw a lot of looks at anyone.”

The team is playing on brand new outdoor courts this season.

“The new courts have been great,” Bayliss said. “They are much slower, so our guys are being forced to learn how to construct points more methodically. Our guys are learning to use the width of the court as well as the length, and some have struggled early, but I believe they will make us a better team and make the transition to outdoors much easier this spring, when we go south in March.”

The team will head to Ann Harbor for the Michigan Invitational on Sept. 19.