Men’s Tennis: Big East tournament starts for top seed Irish
Laura Coletti | Friday, April 20, 2012
The top-seeded Irish will square off against No. 8 seed Villanova today as they begin their quest for their eighth Big East title, and their first since 2008.
Notre Dame coach Bob Bayliss predicts a highly-competitive tournament for the Irish (18-7, 3-1 Big East) and is expecting to be challenged by every opponent.
“You never take anyone lightly, but we have never lost in the first round of the conference tournament in my life, and I don’t expect to do it this year,” he said. “It has been three years since we won the Big East [tournament] and I well know the challenge facing us this year as the No. 1 seed. Nonetheless, we did not come here to be second or third, so we are confident that we can play well enough to win it.”
Bayliss said his squad is sufficiently prepared to face the Wildcats (10-11, 0-1). The Irish have spent this week training by practicing specific situations Bayliss expects to come up repeatedly in their matches this weekend.
“Occasions like this are what we have trained and prepared for all year long,” Bayliss said. “I believe in what we do, and feel that we are playing our best tennis right now, so I am pretty excited about the opportunities ahead.”
One Irish player in particular is playing at the top of his game heading into this weekend’s tournament. Sophomore Greg Andrews was honored as the Big East Player of the Week on Tuesday for the third time this season. Andrews is currently the highest-ranked singles player in the Big East at No. 62.
“I am very proud of Greg and what he has accomplished this year,” Bayliss said. “On top of [his honors], he’s carrying close to a 4.0 [grade-point average] in accountancy, so he represents what college athletics should be all about.”
Bayliss said he is confident Andrews and the rest of the Irish will continue to play well and succeed this weekend.
“At this point, I am satisfied that we have prepared adequately and seem to be in relatively good health,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in our players. They have been a top-15 team these last few weeks in their level of play. There are a couple of teams here capable of beating us, and one of them [South Florida] has already done so. It’s going to be fun seeing what happens the next few days.”
Notre Dame will begin play at 9 a.m. today at South Florida’s P.E. courts.
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