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Men’s Tennis: DePaul looks for first win against Irish

Laura Coletti | Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Irish will take on Big East foe DePaul this afternoon in the first outdoor match at the Courtney Tennis Center this season.

The Irish (14-7, 1-1 Big East) are coming off two dominant victories last weekend against Ball State and St. Bonaventure. DePaul (11-12) had been nationally ranked for much of the year, but has recently dropped out. The Blue Demons are coming off two losses, both against ranked opposition.

Irish coach Bob Bayliss is expecting the Blue Demons to come out strong.

“[DePaul] is one of four or five teams that will contend for the Big East championship later this month in Tampa,” he said. “They have veteran players and have played a good schedule. They have good depth and will compete well here. I expect a tough match.”

Preparation for DePaul has been typical for the Irish, and Bayliss said sticking to routine will bode well for Notre Dame.

“We have been fortunate to get outdoors to practice the last two days,” Bayliss said. “We have not done anything differently than a normal preparation. Today we did volleying work and practiced returning serves. We kept the workout under an hour and a half to ensure fresh legs tomorrow.”

The Irish are playing well lately and will be glad to have the home-court advantage this afternoon. Bayliss expects his squad will be able to handle the Blue Demons’ top players. The Irish have looked to senior Casey Watt and sophomore Greg Andrews for strong play all season long, and will continue to do so moving forward.

“We have gotten much stronger play at the top part of our lineup this year than last,” Bayliss said. “Casey has been pretty consistent for us and that has helped. Greg has blossomed at [the number-two spot] and has been able to fill in well at [the top spot] when needed.”

Edging out DePaul will be the first step in making a strong close to the season for the Irish. Notre Dame has never lost to DePaul, with the series record currently standing at 26-0.

“We are playing well at this point, but are feeling the effects of several close losses that have kept us below where we expect to finish,” Bayliss said. “I believe that we can come on very strong as the year ends.”

Notre Dame squares off with the Blue Demons at 4 p.m. Wednesday at home.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu