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Men’s Tennis: Keeton enjoying success as a senior

Laura Coletti | Tuesday, April 24, 2012

For Irish senior Sam Keeton, the past three years have been nothing but buildup for a great senior season. With Notre Dame (20-8, 3-1 Big East) taking third place at the Big East tournament last weekend and preparing to head into the NCAA championships, his last year on the squad is shaping up to be just that.

Keeton, who has been a solid contributor for the Irish since his freshman year, said he has grown both on and off the court during his athletic career. This year, it has all come together as he has taken on a more prominent role on the team.

“I’ve learned to embrace a leadership role,” Keeton said. “I’ve also learned how to manage my time in a way that allows me to succeed athletically and academically.”

This season, Keeton has thrived in an anchoring role in the middle of the Irish lineup. His overall record of 25-10 has impressed Notre Dame coach Bob Bayliss.

“Sam has anchored the mid-lineup quite well,” he said. “He’s done a good job and has begun to recognize defined pattern play better.”

Looking back on his four years as a Notre Dame student-athlete, Keeton said he is happy with his career thus far, but knows his work is not through. He initially picked Notre Dame for the challenges it would provide, and his experience has lived up to that expectation, he said.

“I wanted to push myself in the classroom and on the court, and I knew Notre Dame could provide that,” he said. “Also, I was comfortable with the coaches and knew they would give me the best chance to succeed.”

As he nears the conclusion of his fourth season, Keeton said his victory in the No. 3 singles slot in Notre Dame’s 4-3 victory over Michigan on Feb. 18 stands out as especially significant.

“It’s hard to pick a specific moment in my career that is my favorite, because all four years have been great,” Keeton said. “One of the best, though, was clinching the match at [then-no. 28] Michigan this year.”

Looking forward to the remainder of the Irish’s spring season, Keeton is hoping to continue to perform at a high level.

“We have [the NCAA tournament] in two weeks and we’re hoping to make the final site, then do some damage there,” he said.

Keeton and the Irish will look for a strong performance in the NCAA tournament, which begins May 11, to close out the 2012 season.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu