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Men’s Tennis: Irish host A&M, travel to Madison

Kate Grabarek | Friday, February 27, 2009

Notre Dame fell to Kentucky Monday but will have a busy weekend to try and forget about.

The No. 25 Irish (6-6) host No. 13 Texas A&M tonight before traveling to Wisconsin Sunday.

Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said the Aggies may boast the nation’s best top-three lineup with senior Conor Pollock and sophomore Austin Krajicek and Wil Spencer.

“After that they are pretty solid, but they count on dominating you at the top,” Bayliss said. “They are outstanding at No. 1 doubles as well … Their coaches, Steve Denton and Bobby McKinley, are truly outstanding and will have the Aggies prepared.”

Wisconsin will also prove to be a tough foe for the young Irish lineup with strong players at the top.

Wisconsin is coming off a win over No. 21 Wake Forest Saturday. Notre Dame edged the Badgers last season, 4-3, when the last match went to a tiebreaker.

Despite the loss to the Wildcats Monday, the Irish did receive some strong individual performances.

Freshman Casey Watt and sophomore Stephen Havens were able to come up with a big doubles win over Kentucky’s Graerne Dyce and Eric Quigley.

“It was gratifying to see Casey and Stephen come out of the blocks so quickly and play well against Kentucky,” Bayliss said. “In particular Casey’s level was very high. When they are fully engaged they can be pretty difficult to play, as each returns serve well and they hurt you in different ways.

“Stephen is more of a classic doubles player while Casey is such a great athlete that he can go outside the norm that most opponents expect in his shot selection.”

Notre Dame’s top singles player, senior Brett Helgeson, suffered a foot injury Feb. 19 against Northwestern, but he played against Kentucky and should be good to go this weekend, Bayliss said.

“Brett’s injury held up well against Kentucky,” Bayliss said. “He was close to 100 percent and is better today than he has been after competing, so we hope to have him for A&M.”

Notre Dame will return home after Sunday’s contest to host Michigan on Wednesday.