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Men’s Tennis: Streaking Notre Dame to host Northwestern

By Peter Steiner | Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fresh off two 7-0 sweeps this past weekend, Notre Dame hosts Northwestern tonight in its third consecutive home match of the spring season.

The Wildcats (4-0) enter the match with the Irish (2-0) with four wins already under their belt, including a 4-1 victory over three-time-defending Big East champion Louisville.

“We expect this to be one of our more challenging matches of the season,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “They are similar to us in that they are pretty well-balanced and very well-coached. I expect us to be challenged in all positions and it will really give us an idea of where we stand.”

The Irish only dropped one set between their first two matches against Marquette and Western Illinois. Junior Greg Andrews and freshman Quentin Monaghan each picked up two singles victories Saturday at No. 1 and No. 3/2 singles, respectively.

“I think all of our guys played good matches on Saturday,” Bayliss said. “It’s hard to know yet. We didn’t get pressed except at No. 4 and No. 5 against Marquette and we were able to come out and win those.”

While Notre Dame mixed up its doubles lineup between matches Saturday, Bayliss says the doubles lineup against Northwestern will look similar to the pairings that competed against the Golden Eagles.

“I think what we played against Marquette looked pretty good,” Bayliss said. “We need to be a little more consistent at No. 2 doubles, but we have a lot of firepower there. If we can get a little more consistency with that team, we’ll be right where we need to be. It was a brand new career for our No. 3 team and they started off pretty solidly.

“Certainly we have a lot of experience at No. 1 doubles with [Greg Andrews] and [senior Spencer Talmadge] because they played together a lot of last year and last fall. I think our doubles is reasonably sound, but this week will tell me a lot.”

Despite their success on Saturday, Bayliss and the Irish understand they can still improve many facets of their game.

“We have to be more consistent in doubles, have a higher percentage of first serves, fewer errors from the back court and more willingness to be active at the net,” Bayliss said. “In singles … I think if we are just, in general, tougher off the ground.tThat will bode well for us.”

The Wildcats roster has one ranked singles player in No. 108 junior Raleigh Smith, who played No. 2 singles against Louisville. Andrews is the highest-ranked player for the Irish at No. 80.

The Irish will face the Wildcats at the Eck Tennis Pavilion today beginning at 6 p.m.

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu