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Men’s Tennis: Talmadge shines in doubles competition

Peter Steiner | Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Playing doubles in collegiate tennis does not often attract the spotlight, but that suits senior Spencer Talmadge just fine.

Over the past three years, Talmadge has quietly, in both demeanor and play, established himself as one of Notre Dame’s top doubles players. After improving his tennis game and fitness level over the summer, Talmadge will move into the No. 1 doubles role with junior Greg Andrews this year, and also has an opportunity to compete for a singles spot.

“[Spencer] has been a great doubles player for us,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said.

The Hillsborough, Calif., native started much of the last two years at No. 2 doubles, beginning his junior year playing with graduate Niall Fitzgerald and ending with Andrews. After the switch, Talmadge and Andrews accumulated a record of 15-6, including doubles victories over No. 6 Kentucky and Indiana.

With the graduation of the No. 1 doubles team and other singles lineup spots up for grabs, Talmadge has two clear goals f
or himself this fall season.

“I wasn’t in the singles lineup last year, so my goal was to just
keep improving in singles, keep getting in better shape and hopefully I can break into the singles lineup with some good wins and results this fall,” Talmadge said. “In doubles, I want to get off to a good start, get as many wins as we can and try to get a good ranking going into the spring.”

Although the senior spent his summer in the Philippines for an internship, Talmadge focused on increasing his endurance and playing tennis whenever he had the chance. According to Bayliss, Talmadge’s fitness level improved greatly and it can only help elevate his game, especially in singles, which requires more endurance.

“[Spencer] has made a big commitment this year,” Bayliss said. “He lost about 20 pounds this summer and he’s in the best shape of his life. His singles is much improved because of it.
“His higher fitness level is really bringing him into the picture now and he has a legitimate chance to get some singles work in for us this year.”

In addition to newfound stamina, Talmadge will continue to utilize the two biggest strengths his game is based on – a big serve and strong volleys.

“Spencer has a big game,” Bayliss said. “He hits a big ball, a very powerful ball. He’s got a huge serve and a very dominant forehand. And in doubles, his quick hands are a tremendous asset for him at the net. He has very good instincts at the net and really can make some magical things happen at times.”

Talmadge echoed his coach’s statements, adding that three years of experience is also a valuable intangible to possess.

“For singles, my game is really based on my serve and being able to come to the net and volley because that’s really my strength,” Talmadge said. “Obviously, [the] same thing [applies] in doubles, because [my] biggest strength is begin able to serve and volley.

“I guess for doubles, it’s just a matter of how well we can do as a team, working together. Just having a lot of experience playing with Greg is going to help us a lot and obviously, that will be a big factor in helping us win this year.”

His big game contrasts the quiet conduct that characterizes Talmadge. Although this means leading mostly by example, Talmadge hopes to also take on a bigger leadership role this year.

“For me personally, I’m more of a leader by example,” Talmadge said. “I just try to be one of the hardest workers out there. I’m trying to be more of a vocal leader.”

No matter what additional roles Talmadge plays this year, he will continue to be an important piece of the Notre Dame doubles lineup. As a senior, he realizes the importance of doubles play has on the team’s success.

“Doubles really becomes much more of a factor than most people think about,” Talmadge said. “A lot of our success in the past has been based on whether or not we’re winning the doubles point.

“From my point, I never thought any less of my position because I’ve only played doubles. I really felt like if I can secure my spot in whatever doubles position I played, we just need one more team to win and that gives us the doubles point. And that just plays a huge difference in how the match comes out.”

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu