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Men’s Tennis:Irish prepared to take on Illini on the road

Kate Grabarek | Tuesday, March 2, 2010

After breaking their three-match losing streak with wins over Michigan State, No. 36 Wisconsin, and Toledo over the weekend, the No. 31 Irish are set to take on the Illini in Champaign, Ill., today.
“It was a great weekend for us,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “I’m really proud of how our team competed against Wisconsin, who is a very good team. They’re a legitimate top-20 team. They beat Florida State a couple weeks ago outdoors without having practiced outdoors.”
One of Notre Dame’s (6-5) bright spots this past weekend came from No. 28 sophomore Casey Watt’s performance at No. 1 singles.
Watt was able to defeat the nation’s No. 7 player, Wisconsin’s Moritz Baumann, in three sets, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
“Casey Watt had a fantastic weekend,” Bayliss said. “He changed up some of his tactics after the first set and they really paid off for him. He was trying to play aggressively but it wasn’t working. He began countering differently and keeping the ball high on Baumann. He was able to get some short balls and create opportunities for himself.”
The Irish again will face a tough team today against No. 12 Illinois.
“We haven’t beaten them in Champaign in eight years,” Bayliss said. “Eight years ago we went to Champaign when they were the No. 1 team in the nation and [we] were able to beat them. They [have] a strong program, and we know it will be a tight match. They always draw a big crowd and advertise their events well.”
Another struggle the Irish have been fighting to overcome is making sure that all their players are healthy and able to make it through multiple sets on the court.
“We have some injuries that are healing nicely,” Bayliss said. “Watt showed that he is close to being all the way back having played two matches on Sunday.”
In two out of three of this weekend’s matches, Notre Dame was able to not only dominate the doubles portion, but also sweep the competition.
“We changed our lineup around to try and create some different looks,” Bayliss said. “We moved Casey [Watt] from playing with Tyler Davis, to playing with Stephen [Havens]. It was good to see them pull out a win over Wisconsin. We may switch things around against Illinois, but we are still looking for the proper chemistry.”
The Irish will look to their doubles pairs to get the team off to another strong start today against the Illini in order to keep up their winning ways. Notre Dame will face Illinois at 5 p.m. in Champaign.