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Men’s Tennis: Squad set to play outdoor matches

Chris Michalski | Friday, March 27, 2009

No. 27 Notre Dame will start and end their outdoor home schedule this weekend as they face off against No. 40 South Florida and No. 7 Illinois.

The Irish (9-9) have played all of their outdoor matches up to this point as part of the Pacific Coast Doubles in La Jolla, Calif. and the Blue Gray Classic in Montgomery, Ala.

The team hopes to rebound from the back-to-back losses to Boise State and No. 19 Wisconsin that knocked them out of the Classic.

“We cannot use the excuse that we have not adapted to outdoor play as a reason for the losses to Boise State and Wisconsin,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We spent the entire week of spring break in California. We should be ready for the outdoor portion of our season.”

History is on Notre Dame’s side for both matches this weekend, as the Irish hold a 3-0 all-time series lead against South Florida and a 21-19 series lead against Illinois.

The Bulls (9-5) are coming off a 4-3 loss to Louisiana State.

The doubles game for the Irish, which Bayliss said has been a focus in practice this week, will have to deal with the Bulls’ talented No. 28 doubles team of Thomas Estrada and Lucas Jovita.

Senior Brett Helgeson and sophomore Tyler Davis will likely face off against Estrada and Jovita.

The Fighting Illini (13-3) are coming to South Bend on a hot streak. They have won eight of their last nine, including a 4-3 victory over Wisconsin. Stiff competition in doubles will come from Illinois’ No. 41 duo of Marc Spicijaric and Marek Czerwinski.

The Irish host South Florida on Saturday and Illinois on Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Both matches are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.