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Men’s Tennis: Irish to face familiar foe in Wolverines

Walker Carey | Thursday, February 16, 2012

No. 30 Notre Dame returns to the court Saturday when they travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on No. 28 Michigan. The Wolverines present a challenge that is quite familiar to the Irish.

“We know Michigan pretty well,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “They beat us in a real close 4-3 match last season on our home court, so we know we can definitely play with them. They return a lot of the same guys, so personnel-wise, we have a pretty good idea of what we are dealing with.”

The two teams feature a similar national ranking, and Bayliss believes the two squads are evenly matched.

“I think both teams are fairly similar in their strengths,” Bayliss said. “There is definitely some differences, but I think their balance is a lot like ours. Like us, they have a strong lineup with good players at each position.”

Bayliss was quick to point out one Wolverine in particular that could give the Irish some trouble.

“[Junior] Evan King is their guy at No. 1 singles and he is a very good player,” Bayliss said. “He is probably going to be one of the better guys that we will see all season, so he is going to be a real tough test for us. Playing good competition will make a team better and [King] definitely counts as good competition.”

Bayliss said the trip to face Michigan (4-3) will put the Irish in a hostile road environment.

“[Michigan] has one of the nicest facilities in the country,” Bayliss said. “The court is a little faster and the lights are not as bright as ours, so some adjustments will have to be made in those areas. They have a great seating area for their matches and I know they do an excellent job of promoting them, so we will probably be playing in front of a lot of Michigan fans. Dealing with the opposition’s fans is always one of the challenges of playing on the road.”

Outside of notching the victory, Bayliss would like to see Notre Dame (8-4) continue to improve in its doubles play.

“We have been much better in our doubles play over the last few weekends,” he said. “I think it is important for us to continue to improve in that area. Ever since we switched up the combinations to have [seniors] Casey Watt and Niall Fitzgerald playing together and [junior] Spencer Talmadge and [sophomore] Greg Andrews playing together, I have seen all four of those guys respond and play some really good tennis. Strong doubles play is always going to be one of our goals.”

The Irish take the court against the Wolverines on Saturday at 3 p.m.