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Men’s Tennis: Battle in Bloomington

Kate Gales | Tuesday, March 7, 2006

After a weekend sojourn playing in the California sunshine, the Irish return to indoor courts in Bloomington at 2 p.m. today.

Notre Dame enters the contest riding a six-match winning streak against in-state rival Indiana.

“The challenge there, in addition to the IU team, is that their courts are a lot faster than ours, and the lighting is considerably more dim,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said Monday. “It’s been a challenging place for us to play … Hopefully ,we’ll make that adjustment and be ready to go.”

The two teams will meet for the 18th consecutive season. The Irish won 5-2 last season in what Bayliss called “a fairly close match.”

The Irish also have faced a number of Hoosier players in tournaments throughout the fall and in previous years.

Notre Dame is 8-4 overall and 6-1 against the Big Ten this season, with its lone defeat coming to perennial powerhouse Illinois. Indiana is 5-5, with an 0-2 conference record.

“We know them,” Bayliss said. “We anticipate another close match, a competitive match, which it usually is in this series.”

The match will be in stark climate contrast to Notre Dame’s last competition.

Bayliss sent the team to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in La Jolla, Calif., this weekend to compete in the Pacific Coast Doubles Tournament, an open event that draws professional and collegiate players.

Although no teams managed to advance past the third round of the 128-team draw, Bayliss was pleased with their performance, which will not count for players’ collegiate records.

“Our top 3 teams all made it into the round of 32 but all of them lost in that round, and a couple of them had really close matches,” Bayliss said.

Ryan Keckley and Barry King, who are ranked No. 51 in the national standings, earned a first-round bye in the tournament and beat a team from San Diego State before losing 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in a tiebreaker.

“We had good matches, got exposed to a lot of good tennis, got to practice with some guys from other teams as well,” Bayliss said.

Sheeva Parbhu and Brett Helgeson also had a first-round bye and highlighted the second round with a win over USC. They also lost a three-set match in the third round, with a score of 6-7, 6-4, 7-5.

Eric Langenkamp and Andrew Roth also lost in the third round to Stanford.

Stephen Bass and Santiago Montoya lost in the second round, as did Patrick Buchanan, who played with former Hoosier player Scott Lippitt.

“It was a really good experience for us,” Bayliss said. “The La Hoya Beach and Tennis Club is a terrific place to host an event – it’s right on the Pacific Ocean. The courts are in great shape. The competition was great. It was everything we wanted it to be.”