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Men’s Tennis: Team focused on finding right doubles combinations

Katelyn Grabarek | Tuesday, February 2, 2010

With a wealth of experience and young talent, the problem for the Irish hasn’t been finding quality players, but how to pair them up.

The Irish have been focusing on doubles play and combinations in practice heading into the start of the season and will continue to try different teams together.

 “[Casey] Watt and [Tyler] Davis played together last fall and had some good results, but they need to buy into a system that gives them a better chance to win, playing higher percentages and being more consistent, or perhaps find other partners,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said.

“[Stephen] Havens and [Niall] Fitzgerald have been a pleasant surprise so far. After that it will be our challenge to find a solid No. 3 team from [Matt] Johnson, [Spencer] Talmadge, [Dan] Stahl, [Michael] Moore, [Blas] Moros, [Sean] Tan and [Sam] Keeton.”

The No. 30 Irish are coming off of a 1-1 road trip that saw them lose a tight decision to Tulsa and then rebound for a 4-1 victory over New Mexico.

The Irish have been relying on a lot of their depth already this season to help fill in the gaps in certain positions.

Junior David Anderson has played a key role already this spring, winning the clinching match against New Mexico Sunday.

Anderson has also been a force for the Irish at doubles, picking up a win with Talmadge against the Lobos.

Watt has established himself at the top of the singles lineup for the Irish taking over for graduated senior Brett Helgeson.

“Casey has a top-20 ranking because he beat several of the country’s better players in the Midwest Regionals, and he deserves it,” Bayliss said. “Now he will become a target rather than a hunter and we will see how he handles it, as plenty of players have trouble with expectations. It is good that we have four players in college tennis’s top 100 and I hope that we will have that kind of balance this year.”

Despite their 4-3 loss to Tulsa this past weekend, the Irish are hoping to rebound from failing to clinch tight matches last season.

The Irish dropped seven matches by the score of 4-3 last year, and with more experience the team hopes to turn those close losses into wins.

Helgeson is the only starter who did not return from last season, leaving a strong core group of players that are helping the freshmen adjust and make an impact on the lineup.
Talmadge, Moros and Moore are contributing as they have combined for three singles wins already through the early portion of the spring schedule.

The Irish will next travel to Durham, N.C., to take on Duke Sunday with first serve set for noon.