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Men’s Tennis: Irish perform well at Illinois event

Chris Masoud | Monday, September 21, 2009

The Irish open the season with a host of questions concerning who will step up to replace a senior class that left some big shoes to fill. After a strong showing at the Illinois/Olympia Fields Invitational this weekend, hopefully some of those questions have been answered.

“I think there were some outstanding performances this weekend because if you understand the format of what we were doing, we brought ten players,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “The other teams brought their top four, and three of those teams were round of 16 teams last year in the NCAA tournament.”

Led by junior captain Tyler Davis, the Irish competed in 10 singles and 10 doubles matches on day one against a field that included Miami, Florida State, Illinois and Northwestern.

Davis claimed a singles victory over Tobias Reitz of Northwestern (6-3, 6-1) and together with sophomore Casey Watt earned Notre Dame’s only doubles victory in a hard-fought match against Christian Blocker and Carl Sundberg of Miami (9-8).

“Tyler Davis has made a significant jump from a year ago,” Bayliss said. “What we’re getting from him also is terrific leadership. He’s a team captain as a junior, which is very rare here. I think he’s going to really help shape the way our guys work on finishing and having a great season.”

The Irish continued their strong play over the weekend, earning seven singles wins on Saturday and four singles wins and two doubles wins on Sunday. But perhaps the most promising sign of the showcase was the outstanding performance of the rookies.

Freshman Michael Moore earned the first singles victory of his career over Hector Nieto of Miami, while freshman Spencer Talmadge and junior Matt Johnson triumphed over Florida State in a doubles match.

In what may be a sign of good things to come for the Irish, freshman Blas Moros defeated Clint Bowles and Vahid Mirzadeh of Florida State in the first two singles matches of his career. Bowles, the thirty-third ranked player in the country, has already won a professional tournament as an amateur. Mirzadeh, a former national 18-and-under champion, played professionally for three years, which included a victory over reigning U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro.

“I was incredibly proud of some of the matches we won,” Bayliss said. “Where we took some losses was where our No. 5 team played somebody’s No. 1 or No. 2 team. The volume doesn’t look as good as the individual performances, but I was awfully proud of what some of them did this weekend.”