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Men’s Tennis: Irish to compete against three tough teams

Megan Finneran | Friday, April 5, 2013

The No. 31 Irish return home to take on No. 65 SMU, South Florida and Butler this weekend. The next three matches provide the Irish with their last opportunity to play at home in the regular season.

“These matches will be a lot of fun because it’s senior day and coach [Bobby] Bayliss’ last regular season home match,” freshman Quentin Monaghan said. “I think all of us are really looking forward to this weekend.”

The Irish (12-7) enter the weekend coming off back-to-back wins against William & Mary and Ball State.

“Leading up to the William & Mary match was the start of long preparation for these coming matches and the Big East,” Monaghan said.

The Mustangs (7-7) enter the weekend riding a four-match winning streak against Marquette, Oklahoma State, Idaho and Illinois-Chicago. They stand strong in doubles play, going 22-14 this season. SMU carries the No. 75 pair of sophomore Arturs Kazijevs and junior Mischa Nowicki.

“In particular doubles has been a focus because we’ve been struggling a little in that area, but besides that it has been some of the basic aggressive tactics we have been developing throughout the year,” Monaghan said.

In singles, the Mustangs bring No. 124 Kazijevs to face off with Notre Dame’s No. 109 junior Greg Andrews. Kazijevs has led the squad throughout the season on the No. 1 court, going 10-4 this season, including wins in the last six matches.

The squads share little history coming from different regions, but both have taken wins over Marquette this season. The Irish won 7-0 while the Mustangs won 6-1 against the Golden Eagles.

South Florida (7-8) is coming off a 5-2 loss to No. 57 UNC-Wilmington last Friday. No. 59 sophomore Oliver Pramming and freshman Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz lead South Florida in doubles play.

Butler has a three-match losing streak that the Irish will seek to stretch to four this weekend.

Both squads have faced No. 5 Ohio State, IUPUI and Ball State this season. Butler (8-10) and Notre Dame suffered 7-0 losses to Ohio State. The Irish beat IUPUI 7-0 and the Bulldogs won 4-3. Both teams ended with a 5-2 score against Ball State, but Butler came out on the losing side.

“They are all going to be challenging,” Monaghan said. “SMU is the best ranking wise, but then again we haven’t beaten USF in over a year.”

The Irish will begin doubles play at 4 p.m. against SMU this afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The action will continue Saturday afternoon with Notre Dame against South Florida at 1 p.m. and Butler at 6 p.m.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu