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Men’s Tennis: Watt leads squad onto clay courts

Andrew Owens | Thursday, September 16, 2010

After appearing in 19 of the last 20 NCAA Tournaments, the Irish head into the 2010-11 season with extremely high expectations.

The first test for the Irish comes this weekend when the squad splits to play in two tournaments, the Illinois Invitational and the Purdue Invitational. The participants in the Illinois Invitational include Wake Forest, Alabama, Florida State and Illinois. All four teams earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament last season. Of the four teams, only Alabama did not advance to the second round.

In West Lafayette, Notre Dame will face Arkansas, Case Western, DePaul, Dayton, Iowa, Morehead State, Southern Illinois, UW-Green Bay, Valparaiso, Vincennes and Western Michigan.

Junior singles player Casey Watt will be traveling to Chicago this weekend to compete in the Illinois Invitational. After two consecutive selections to the All-Big East team, he returns as a team leader and will play a vital role in how far the Irish go this season.

In order to prepare for the clay courts it will play on this weekend, Notre Dame has taken a different approach in practice this week.

“The nine guys that are going have been practicing at a local club that has clay courts for the last three days,” Watt said. “We have just been trying to adjust to the new surface. Since this is our first tournament this year and the freshmen’s first college tournament, it’s important that we are patient out there on the clay since the court is slower and points will be longer.”

Watt added that he hopes the inexperienced players will quickly adapt to the speed of the college game.

“I would love to see our freshmen have a great first tournament and transition into college tennis smoothly,” he said.

Not only is Watt looking to help the Irish advance deep into the NCAA Tournament, but he is also looking to make some noise individually.

“My goal is to hopefully win all my matches, but also just play well because this is my first match since NCAAs last year,” Watt said.

The tournament will consist of a full slate of action Friday, Saturday and Sunday.