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Men’s Tennis: Squad travels south for a pair of matches

Kate Grabarek | Friday, January 23, 2009

After dropping their spring opener to Pepperdine last Friday, the No. 30 Irish will now head to Virginia to take on William and Mary and No. 5 Virginia.

“I think our guys are handling the loss to Pepperdine as well as can be expected,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We could not have played any harder and we certainly left everything out on the court. We are going to play a ton of matches just like this and dwelling on what might have been is certainly not going to make anything positive happen.”

The young Irish squad has a tough schedule to open up the season. The Irish face top-20 teams in all but one of their first six matches.

Notre Dame travels first to Virginia to take on William and Mary – I a team they have already seen this season when the Irish traveled to the William and Mary Invitational in November.

“We lost to William and Mary a year ago,” Bayliss said. “It clearly was not one of our best matches. We played there in November at their tournament, so our guys are familiar with their courts. Brett (Helgeson) might have an edge at No. 1 singles, but he lost last year so I think he will be prepared. We certainly can’t look past them because of last year’s match.”

Freshman Sam Keeton was able to pull out a key singles win in the loss to Pepperdine at No. 5 singles. The Kansas City native missed the entire fall season with a broken right wrist, which proved to be a blessing in disguise.

“Sam played up pretty close to the baseline,” Bayliss said. “He really put a lot of pressure on Jensen Turner. Not many guys can match his ability from the back of the court. On top of that he passed well, leaving Turner feeling like he had to hang back with Keeton. In the second set Sam loosened up a bit and was able to turn up the heat for an easier time.”

After meeting William and Mary the Irish will take on No. 5 Virginia on Sunday.

Virginia was ranked No. 1 for the majority of last year, and despite losing two seniors to graduation, Bayliss noted they boast another strong team this season.

Senior Dominic Inglot will prove to be a force for the Cavaliers again this season. Inglot was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation last season.

“Sophomores Michael Shabaz and Sanam Sing hit as clean a ball as you will see anywhere,” Bayliss said. “Throw in Houston Barrick and you have a core nucleus that are hard to contend with.”

The Irish will square off against William and Mary at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with the Virginia match beginning at noon on Sunday.