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Men’s Tennis: Irish go 1-2 over weekend

Andrew Owens | Monday, February 28, 2011

In one of the oldest and most competitive annual tournaments in the nation, the Irish were able to cruise to victory Friday before dropping their matches on Saturday and Sunday.

No. 26 Notre Dame (8-6) won the opening match of the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala., over Penn State, 4-0. The doubles team of junior Casey Watt and freshman Greg Andrews picked up another important victory for the Irish. With an unfinished match Saturday and a victory over Texas Tech yesterday, the duo continued their unbeaten streak, which dates back to Jan. 23, when the two lost to No. 1 Virginia’s 3-doubles team, 8-6.

“They’re both really good players,” Irish associate head coach Ryan Sachire said. “Only the best teams in the country put out the talent level we are at that position. They have good chemistry with each other.”

Watt anchored the singles lineup as well, picking up a 6-2, 6-2 victory at the No. 1 position over the Nittany Lions’ Eddie Bourchier.

“We played well at every position against Penn State,” Sachire said.

On Saturday afternoon, the Irish dropped a 4-0 decision to No. 21 Pepperdine. The Waves swept the top three singles points, as Watt earned a rare defeat against sophomore Sebastian Fanselow, the 21st-ranked player in the country.

Pepperdine was also able to win at Notre Dame’s strongest position – its doubles teams. Although the No. 3 doubles match was halted before its completion, the Wave won at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, 9-8 (7-4) and 8-4, respectively.

“We need to get the top of the lineup playing better,” Sachire said. “Tennis is a team sport, with seven points on the line in each match. It’s all about working as a seven-cylinder engine, and we haven’t been firing on the same page every match.”

On the final day of the tournament, the competition did not get any weaker, as the Irish lost 4-0 to No. 17 Texas Tech.

Once again, the top three Notre Dame singles players were swept in straight sets. The reliable Watt-Andrews duo picked up an important win at No. 3 doubles, 8-6, but it was not enough to hold off the Red Raiders.

“Casey has taken over a lot with volleys and his athleticism,” Sachire said. “Greg hits a hard ball, so they set each other up pretty well.”

The Irish have the week off before hosting Texas A&M and Big Ten schools Northwestern and Illinois in a five-day stretch starting Friday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.