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Men’s Tennis: Irish return to campus to compete

Katelyn Grabarek | Thursday, October 14, 2010

Coming off a tough first showing at the ITA All-American Event in Tulsa, Okla., the Irish will return home over fall break to host the Midwest Regional Tournament Oct. 21-22.

“We certainly did not get the results in Tulsa that I was hoping for, but that event represented the top 64 players in college tennis,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “None of our guys had played the event before and our draws were difficult. What was important, though, was for each of them to see the top level and understand that we will need to meet that level by NCAA time, or before.”

The Midwest Regional qualifying round will bring in 64 players beginning on Thursday and Friday that will compete for eight spots in the main draw that will run through Monday.

“There will be a conference call Oct. 13 to determine which players are selected and into which draw they will begin play,” Bayliss said. “I expect to get nine doubles teams in the event. We are still trying to determine exactly which players are going to pair up as doubles teams for us.”

In this event last year junior Casey Watt was able to make a strong run to the finals. This year, Bayliss noted that senior Stephen Havens has been playing at an elite level and could make a deep run in the tournament.

The Irish are a very deep team again this year returning all of their starters from last season as well as adding new freshman such as Billy Pecor and Greg Andrews.

“This will put them on a bigger stage and I am anxious to see how each handles it,” Bayliss said. “Both were in national junior singles finals a year ago. If [freshman] Ryan Bandy gets an opportunity to play he has looked pretty good so far, as has [freshman] Matt Dooley at times.”

The Irish are also looking for their doubles play to continue to improve as it has most of this fall season already. At the event last year, their doubles teams had a poor showing, so Bayliss is hoping with the addition of the freshmen, the results will improve.

“The chance to demonstrate this here in front of friendly fans is a perfect opportunity for us to show the growth that is taking place in our doubles,” Bayliss said. “Havens and Tyler Davis are playing very well together. At times [junior] Niall Fitzgerald and [sophomore] Spencer Talmadge have been awesome. Watt and Anderson are pretty good. Andrews and Pecor can each factor into the doubles equation. There are others, as well, and we certainly going to have options this year.”

The Irish will look to continue the dominance that has been a strong theme this fall on their home turf before heading south to the Alabama Invitational the first weekend in November to round out their fall season.