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Men’s Tennis: Irish excel at tourney in Ohio

Walker Carey | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Irish successfully competed in the Midwest Singles/Doubles Championship in Columbus, Ohio over fall break, building on success the team has had throughout the season.

Senior Casey Watt advanced to the semifinals before falling to Ohio State’s Blaz Rolla, who was the eventual champion.

“[Watt] played his best tennis of the year,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “He showed a lot of improvement in many areas and it was also very encouraging to see him play even better as the tournament went on. Overall, I was very pleased.”

Seniors Niall Fitzgerald and Sam Keeton and sophomores Greg Andrews and Billy Pecor joined Watt in the round of 16. The five Irish players in the round of 16 were second most to Ohio State’s six.

“Whenever you can put essentially a third of the guys into the round of 16, you have to look at your team’s play as pretty strong,” Bayliss said. “I feel like we had some excellent performances especially when you consider the strong competition at the event.”

In addition to Watt, Fitzgerald also represented the Irish in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

“[Fitzgerald] had a breakthrough tournament for us,” Bayliss said. “He fought through some tough competition to play his way into the quarterfinals. It was great to see him put his play together for an entire tournament. His play definitely reached another level”

The Irish also saw their doubles teams of Watt and Andrews and Fitzgerald and junior Spencer Talmedge reach the quarterfinals.

“[Fitzgerald and Talmedge] probably had a chance to advance even further,” Bayliss said. “However, [Fitzgerald] was battling a bit of a sore arm after playing four matches Saturday. He was able to play through it, but he probably was not at the top of his game.”

After the Midwest Championship, the Irish noticed holes in their game and can put their upcoming spring season into perspective.

“We can definitely continue our improvement in doubles,” Bayliss said. “We also need to start making decisions about who is going to be in the singles lineup for us in the spring. We have a strong nucleus of nine or 10 guys who can definitely play, so it will be interesting to see who will separate themselves.”

The Irish will complete the fall portion of their schedule when they compete in the Gopher Invitational at the University of Minnesota on Nov. 3-6.

Contact Walker Carey at

wcarey@nd.edu