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Men’s Tennis: Bayliss is ready for a challenge

Kate Gales | Friday, January 28, 2005

Thrashing their way to a 4-0 start, the Irish are ready for some tougher competition – and this weekend’s matches against No. 18 North Carolina and No. 41 Florida State will provide just that.

Top teams? Of course. But coach Bobby Bayliss is ready for a challenge.

“I feel pretty good about our team,” he said. “I think we’ve grown and its time to take on a big challenge and it’s here – so let’s get it on.”

After compiling a 4-0 record, including last weekend’s wins over Indiana and Wisconsin, the team is seasoned and making the in-season adjustments necessary to success.

“We had two matches over the weekend, so the first thing we did was to make sure we had a day off and kind of regrouped,” Bayliss said. “I was pretty pleased with the singles last weekend, and we’ve still got a ways to go in doubles, but we’re better than we were a year ago, and we’re making some progress.”

The doubles point is of particular concern for Bayliss.

“We certainly are concerned about all our doubles,” he said. “Getting to the level of teams we’re going to be playing now, that’s not going to be good enough.”

North Carolina will provide Notre Dame with its biggest test in the season so far.

“North Carolina is a very well-balanced team with a lot of aggressive baseliners who really, really make you play,” Bayliss said. “They play great doubles – I think the match Saturday is going to be very hotly contested and a great match.”

The team has worked to prepare for the talent that the Tar Heels will bring to the match.

“I had a chance to watch them practice a little bit,” Bayliss said. “They really do hit their ground strokes with authority.”

Sunday’s match will not prove any easier, as Bayliss calls the Seminoles a potential top-20 team “loaded with talent.”

The team did not change their practice strategy, although Bayliss and his players are focused on the important weekend ahead.

“We tried to keep the practices a little more compact and specific knowing that we’ve got two very, very tough teams back to back,” Bayliss said.

The team is also sponsoring a dorm challenge event, where dorms with the most students coming to matches will receive a prize. This weekend, Seigfried, Pasquerilla West, and Lewis will be the dorms competing at Saturday’s match, with Knott, Pasquerilla East and Welsh Family vying for the prize on Sunday.

Regardless of the contest, however, fans this weekend can expect to see a high caliber of play at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“We’re healthy, everyone’s looked good in practice, there’s no reason to think we won’t play well,” Bayliss said. “I’m excited because I know we’ve come a long way, and we either need to learn that we’ve really achieved a lot or find out what we need to do to get better – and we’re going to find out.”