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Men’s Tennis: ND looks to start off strong

Walker Carey | Friday, September 16, 2011

Notre Dame begins its fall schedule this weekend at the Illini Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill. The Irish will face staunch competition from Illinois, Alabama, Texas and California.

Irish associate head coach Ryan Sachire is anxious to see his team take the courts for the first time this season.

“I am excited to see us go out and compete,” Sachire said. “It is going to be great to see how our guys have developed and how we have developed as a team.”

Irish head coach Bobby Bayliss is similarly excited, but finds it difficult to have expectations.

“We can definitely use this weekend as a measuring stick of where we are as a team,” Bayliss said. “It is tough to have expectations because it is so early in the season, but I know our guys will be ready to play hard and compete.”

Sachire is eager to see the progress that has been made at No. 1 singles by senior Casey Watt and at No. 2 singles by sophomore Greg Andrews.

“[Watt and Andrews] are certainly in the elite pack of players that will be there,” Sachire said. “They both have been working very hard and I know they are prepared to compete against anyone.”

Bayliss possesses high expectations for Andrews going into the season.

“[Greg] had a strong summer playing in some professional tournaments,” Bayliss said. “I believe he is more than ready to become a marquee player for us this season.”

Bayliss is also looking forward to watching the No. 1 doubles team of senior Niall Fitzgerald and junior Spencer Talmadge.

“[Fitzgerald and Talmadge] were pretty strong as a duo last season,” Bayliss said. “There is a possibility that they will jump into that elite category this season.”

The Irish will have one player making his collegiate debut this weekend, which is something Sachire is very excited about.

“Freshman Wyatt McCoy will travel with us and make his debut,” Sachire said. “It will be great to see him get his feet wet in an Irish uniform.”

The Illini Invitational is the only clay court event the Irish will participate in this season.

“Clay courts are different and unique,” Sachire said. “They cause longer points and will force our guys to have more precise footwork.”

Watt is looking forward to the challenges that the clay could present.

“[The Illini Invitational] will be pretty unique because it is a clay court tournament,” Watt said. “[It’s] one of the only ones in college tennis and I am looking forward to it. It changes the game a lot.”

The Irish will look for a strong showing on the clay courts this weekend to set the tone for the remainder of their fall campaign.

Contact Walker Carey at wcarey@nd.edu