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Men’s Tennis: Team ready for ranked bout with Blue Devils

Kate Grabarek | Friday, February 5, 2010

The No. 34 Irish will travel to Durham, N.C. to take on No. 21 Duke this weekend with first serve set for noon Sunday.

“Duke is a top-20 team this year and will be difficult to beat in Durham, but we are going there with the thought that we can get it done,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “They have a very strong top of the lineup with freshman Enrique Cunyha and junior Reid Carleton, who also form their No. 1 doubles team. Throw in Dylan Arnold, Jason Pinsky, and some of their other talented players and you have a group that can go deep into the NCAA Tournament.”

The Irish are coming off a 4-1 victory over New Mexico last weekend at the National Team Qualifier Indoors in Columbus, Ohio.

There the Irish finished 1-1 with a 4-3 loss to Tulsa to start off the weekend.

“We will need to play one of our best matches to win, so I am counting on continued improved play deep in our lineup,” Bayliss said. “[Junior] David Anderson played very well against New Mexico and has practiced well this week. [Freshman] Blas Moros is very reliable and has terrific ground strokes. [Junior] Stephen Havens seems to be settling into a good rhythm and is striking the ball well. Casey Watt competes as hard as anyone and [junior] Dan Stahl has fully recovered from his injury suffered last weekend, so we are optimistic that we will play well. Winning the doubles point will be important, as will handling their crowd.”

Duke has taken the last three matches from the Irish and Notre Dame will look to snap this win streak in the team’s 24th meeting.

The Irish have had to rebound from the tough loss to Tulsa last weekend and showed their resilience in the victory over New Mexico, but will face a tougher opponent in Duke this weekend.

The Irish have a very deep team with a lot of young talent that will all be fighting for playing time in the lineup this season.

“I feel we are good enough to take on this schedule, but we need to be sufficiently resilient to handle some losses and rebound well to take advantage of the large number of opportunities that we will have,” Bayliss said. “As for playing time, I believe that this might be the deepest team we have ever had in my 23-year Notre Dame tenure.”
The Irish are looking to get contributions from both their veteran players and the freshman.

“We have 10 players who have done well as starters, or are impact freshmen,” Bayliss said. “The last time I checked, we are only going to be able to play six of them at a time in singles, except for the Virginia match, in which we are playing 10 singles and five doubles. Last year, for example, [junior] Tyler [Davis], David [Anderson], [sophopmore] Niall [Fitzgerald], and [sophomore] Sam [Keeton] all started in at least 10 matches, so they know that they are all going to get their opportunities. The challenge is to stay focused and ready while someone else is in there, so that you can hit the ground running when your number is called.”

The next duel match for the Irish will be when they travel to Michigan on Feb. 13, with first serve set for 6 p.m.