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Men’s Tennis: Newly-ranked Irish return to court Saturday

By Megan Finneran | Friday, January 18, 2013

After a two-month break, Notre Dame return to the courts Saturday for its season opener and final season with Irish coach Bob Bayliss before his retirement. They enter this season ranked No. 30 in the nation, the highest among Big East squads. Notre Dame will host Marquette and Western Illinois, marking their first official team competition since early November.

“We’ve played a lot of practice matches to simulate the real thing and doubles is always a key focus as well,” senior Blas Moros said of preparation during the offseason.

Notre Dame’s secured its national ranking recently, when four singles players and one doubles pair earned preseason rankings. Junior Greg Andrews, who recorded a 7-5 record during the fall season, leads the way at No. 80. He went 4-2 against ranked opponents.

Junior Billy Pecor comes next behind Andrews, ranked No. 88, with Moros and sophomore Wyatt McCoy ranked No. 110 and No. 120, respectively.

The doubles pair of Andrews and senior Spencer Talmadge is ranked No. 51 to begin the spring after finishing the fall season 10-5.

Now, the Irish look to carry their preseason accomplishments to the court.

“During the season, practice tends to be more skill focused than fitness since we are playing and traveling so much,” Moros said. “It’s a fine line between pushing our guys to the point of fatigue or injury and making sure we are in prime shape, but our coaches and strength coach know what they are doing and take great care of us.”

Notre Dame will first face Marquette, a team that went 10-13 in dual matches last season. The Golden Eagles seek leadership mainly from experienced juniors Logon Collins and Dan Mamalat.

The Irish will also face Western Illinois, allowing Leatherneck coach Chris Kane to return to his alma mater for the weekend. Kane’s squad finds leadership from freshman Christoph Haertel and senior Patrick Hammers, both of whom competed in the singles bracket of the ITA Midwest Regionals at the end of October.

This first weekend back will give Notre Dame an opportunity to showcase its hard work.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on becoming well rounded and complete players with everyone of course having their own specific talents and shot-making abilities,” Moros said.

Play will begin with doubles competition at 11 a.m. Saturday against Marquette, followed by Western Illinois at 5 p.m.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu