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Men’s Tennis: Irish edge out Wolverines, 4-3

Peter Steiner | Sunday, February 19, 2012

The No. 30 Irish utilized strong singles play to earn their fourth away game victory Saturday by defeating No. 28 Michigan 4-3.

The Irish (9-4) knew Saturday’s match against the Wolverines (4-4) would be tightly contested and the match certainly met the their expectations as three matches went to three sets.

The day started out poorly for the Irish as all three doubles teams fell to the Wolverines. Notre Dame turned it around quickly though, taking four of the six singles matches in front of a large crowd at Varsity Tennis Courts in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“I thought we played really well in singles,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “I was disappointed in our lack of toughness in the doubles. They had a pretty big and raucous crowd that I think some of the guys let get to them in the doubles. I think we really played with a lot of resolve and toughness in singles.”

In the top singles match, senior Casey Watt started out hot against No. 8 Evan King, winning the first set 6-1. But King fought back to win both the second and closely contested third sets. Even though Watt lost, Bayliss said he played some of his best tennis in the match.

“Casey Watt, at No. 1 singles, played the No. 8 player in the country,” Bayliss said. “At one point near the end of the match, it was 5-5 and it was anybody’s match. I think that’s one of the better matches he’s played even though he lost.”

Following early victories from sophomore Greg Andrews and junior Blas Moros at No. 2 and 5 singles respectively, the Irish were tied with the Wolverines 2-2 with three singles matches remaining. While junior Michael Moore at No. 6 singles fell to sophomore Alex Buzzi 7-5, 7-5, both senior Sam Keeton at No. 3 singles and senior Niall Fitzgerald at No. 4 singles came up big for the Irish with three-set victories.

“At No. 4, [Niall] Fitzgeraled played a very intelligent match in which he was outgunned in terms of firepower by his opponent. He mixed up different spins, heights of the ball and pace to take advantage of his opponent,” Bayliss said. “At No. 3 singles, Sam Keeton really held his poise . . . He had a 5-3 lead and several match points that he dropped, but he was able to muster the moxie to come back and win the tie-breaker, which clinched the whole match.”

The win gives the Irish their third victory over a top-50 opponent this year. The Irish will prepare this week for home matches against Michigan State and Marquette.



Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu