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Men’s Tennis: Bayliss aims for next Big East crown

Kate Gales | Friday, April 21, 2006

1996. 1999. 2002. 2004. 2005.

This weekend, the Irish hope to add another Big East title to the five they have won since joining the conference. The team has played in the finals every year and is undefeated in the finals since 2001 (the 2003 conference final was called due to weather).

“I think the main focus is to get tomorrow’s match over,” said coach Bobby Bayliss from Florida, where the team is practicing. “To win the match tomorrow and not be extended physically, and be ready to go for Saturday – we’ll expect tougher matches on Saturday.”

This year’s tournament is in Tampa at the University of Southern Florida, and the Irish face Georgetown tomorrow at noon.

“The big thing now is [to] acclimate to the heat,” Bayliss said. “It’s about 87 degrees today and very humid. That’s something no matter what we do we aren’t used to yet. As we stay down here you get a little more acclimated.”

The team arrived in Florida Wednesday night.

“They key is, we only have two days to practice and prepare,” Bayliss said. “We won’t be here long enough to totally get acclimated to the heat, and at the same time, we don’t want to overdo it so we’re exhausted come Friday or Saturday or Sunday.”

The other challenge for the Irish has been adjusting to new courts.

“It’s been a balance of both,” Bayliss said. “That’s the biggest thing, just getting used to the speed of the courts and heat and humidity and trying to fine tune the things we need to do a little better.”

The doubles have been another focus for the Irish. The team has only won three of its last ten doubles points, but upset two ranked teams against Louisville April 13 to restore confidence going into the postseason.

“We have worked pretty hard on our doubles,” Bayliss said. “We went about three hours yesterday and today, we probably went just over two.”

The No. 16 Irish are a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament, but are hoping to be one of the top 16 teams in order to be a host site.

“The top 16 teams will host so we know we need to win these matches,” Bayliss said. “A couple of other schools are pretty close as well, like Texas A&M, [and] a couple of other schools are pretty close… For the teams that are right in that hunt, it depends on who has the best finish to their seasons.”

The Irish (15-7, 1-1 Big East) face unranked Georgetown (4-13, 1-3 Big East) today at noon.

“I think the goal is to win it this week,” Bayliss said. “We only can control a little bit of our destiny with regards to the NCAA tournament – I think that’s the bigger goal.”