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Men’s Tennis: Bayliss heads to Navy for emotional reunion

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, April 16, 2010

The Irish will be back on the road this weekend to face Navy in Annapolis, Md., in a match that holds special significance for both teams.

Not only is Saturday’s match the last for Notre Dame (12-11) before the Irish head to the Big East championships, but it is also a reunion of Irish coach Bobby Bayliss’ former Navy players from his 15 seasons coaching there from 1970 to 1984.

“Navy is a special match for me,” Bayliss said. “The Academy is bringing back people who played under me there. It’s a reunion of sorts for me and a chance to see players I haven’t in years, all who have gone to be very successful in their lives.”

Notre Dame is coming off a 5-2 win over Ball State Wednesday, snapping its three-match losing streak to Texas A&M, Ohio State and Louisville. The Irish captured the match after winning the double point and are now 9-1 when they win that point.

Not only were the Irish strong on the doubles side, but also in the singles division, winning at Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Although the Irish moved around some players Wednesday, Bayliss said the points kept coming easily for his team, and that speaks to the depth of Notre Dame’s roster.

“We think we’ve got nine or 10 guys who can play pretty good [at the lower positions],” Bayliss said. “Some of the lower guys are starting to get some confidence, and we’re holding our own the lower we go in the lineup.”

Not only does this mean Bayliss has options in his team currently, but he also has the promise of continued strength in the future.

“I think it bodes well for the future, but the problem is at this point I don’t think they can do any better than the guys at 1 and 2,” he said of sophomore Casey Watt and junior Stephen Havens, respectively.

Without much turnaround time between Wednesday’s home match and when the team hits the road, the Irish were not given much time to practice — but Bayliss said he expects continued improvement.

“We’ll continue to work on our net play in doubles and be a little more consistent and aggressive up there,” Bayliss said. “It’s different for each person.”

The Irish take on Navy at 1 p.m. at the Dyer Tennis Clubhouse in Annapolis Saturday in their final regular season match before the conference tournament.