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Men’s Tennis: Northwestern falls to new doubles pairing

Sam Gans | Tuesday, February 7, 2012

After falling to No. 10 Duke on Sunday, the No. 30 Irish rebounded Tuesday with a dominating start to earn a 5-2 victory at Northwestern.

Notre Dame (6-3) began the match strongly by taking the doubles point after winning all three doubles matches. The newly-composed pairing of seniors Niall Fitzgerald and Casey Watt improved to 2-1 on the year, while junior Spencer Talmadge and sophomore Greg Andrews remained undefeated at 3-0.

“Doubles was pretty important tonight,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We got down a break [point] on a couple of the courts right away. Their courts are newly resurfaced and they’re slower [which] makes for longer rallies. And some of the balls we thought we’d put away came back and we were out of position. So I think that our guys made good adjustments and we sort of hunkered down and broke back and stayed the course. It was a pretty good effort for us.”

In singles play, the Irish clinched the match early by winning the first three completed matches to go up 4-0 against the previously undefeated Wildcats (5-1). Notre Dame was also victorious in its top three singles positions, with Watt, Andrews and senior Sam Keeton each earning straight-set victories. Fitzgerald also won at the No. 6 singles position.

“Casey Watt was down early, 2-0, and he really pulled himself together and won the match in straight sets,” Bayliss said. “Greg Andrews was a warrior tonight. He played Josh Graves, who might be their best player and he won a long two-and-a-half hour 6-4, 6-4 match. Sam Keeton, his ability to play up in the court forced Spencer Wolf, his opponent, to constantly be out of position and Sam was able to control the match from off the ground and get to the net a few times.”

The Northwestern match marked the middle portion of a busy stretch of tennis for the Irish. After two matches in North Carolina this past weekend and the mid-week match against the Wildcats, Notre Dame is slated for three more matches this upcoming weekend, starting with Wisconsin on Friday.

“There’s not a lot of time to reflect on anything,” Bayliss said. “[Wednesday’s] a day off and then we’ll have one day of practice before we play Wisconsin.”

The next match for the Irish, against the Badgers, is scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.