Men’s Tennis: ND heads to Tulsa for ITA Nat’ls
Laura Myers | Friday, January 30, 2009
Nothing seems to be going Notre Dame’s way lately, but the squad will try to change that this weekend.
The No. 32 Irish (1-3) will travel to Tulsa Saturday to take part in one of 15 ITA National Team Indoors Regional matches across the country.
Each regional has four of the nation’s top-60 teams, and the winner of each will advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago.
The fourth-seeded Irish will begin play Saturday against No. 12 Tulsa, the top seed.
“This early in the season I doubt if anyone feels their ranking makes them a favorite or an underdog,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Neither [Tulsa], nor anyone else, has yet had the opportunity to prove much.”
The Irish have lost every dual match they have played against ranked teams so far this season. Two of those losses – Jan. 16 against No. 14 Pepperdine and Wednesday’s against No. 11 Florida State – were by a score of 4-3 that easily could have gone the other way.
“I am proud of the way we are fighting in these close matches and confident that if this continues it will result in wins,” Bayliss said. “We are two tiebreakers from being 3-1 with two top-15 wins, so we know we can play with most of the better teams in the country.”
Tulsa (5-1) brings two ranked singles players, including No. 10 Arnau Brugues. He will face senior Brett Helgeson, ranked 20th, in No.1 singles.
“Brugues is one of the more talented players in college tennis, but we believe that [Helgeson] is also in that elite group,” Bayliss said.
The Golden Hurricanes also bring a challenge in doubles, though none of their teams are currently ranked. The Irish have one ranked pair, the No. 37 duo of Helgeson and sophomore Tyler Davis.
“Tulsa has historically played great doubles and I expect that to be the case this season,” Bayliss said. “The reason that they have no ranked teams is that they have several new players who have just arrived this semester and have no college record. Winning the doubles point will be a challenge for us.”
The winner of the match between Notre Dame and Tulsa will go on to face the winner between No. 19 LSU and No. 21 Texas Tech. The losers of each match will play in a consolation bracket.
“I have no preference as to whom we will play on Sunday,” Bayliss said. “Both teams are very good and ranked much higher than we. For us it will simply be the fifth top-20 team we have faced in our six matches and another opportunity to prove ourselves.”