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Men’s Tennis: Irish set to take on Huskies

Deirdre Krasula | Monday, March 5, 2007

No. 8 Notre Dame will look to finish its home indoor season undefeated when it takes on No. 15 Washington today at 4 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Even thought the team has gone 6-0 at home, posting wins over top-ranked teams including No. 22 Michigan, No. 12 Duke and No. 10 Florida State, Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss is focused solely on the match.”I’m more concerned about Washington than what our home record is,” he said.The Huskies, who have several lefthanders on their roster, will challenge the Irish from the beginning. Seniors Alex Slovic and Daniel Chu are two of the lefthanders likely to test Notre Dame on the courts at No. 1 doubles. “They play great doubles,” Bayliss said. “They serve big and they try to take away the middle of the court, they have a very aggressive style and we need to counter that well.”Chu will also present a problem for Notre Dame at No. 3 singles.”[Chu] is a very smooth player,” Bayliss said. “He doesn’t hit the ball big, but he is a very balanced player with good transition skills.”No. 84 Slovic will take on the No. 1 singles spot for the Irish. Senior Stephen Bass (No. 11) and junior Sheeva Parbhu (No. 27) have both played at No. 1 singles for Notre Dame, and Bayliss said he is comfortable playing either one against Slovic. “[Bass and Parbhu] have alternated some all year – both are number one players,” he said.Bayliss is also confident in the rest of the singles lineup. Sophomore Brett Helgeson and seniors Ryan Keckley and Barry King can all play at No. 3 singles and have alternated throughout the season. The only set player is junior Andrew Roth, who anchors the Irish at the No. 6 position. “[Roth] has really been our sparkplug this year,” Bayliss said. “He’s got more energy than anybody and he’s been a pretty effective number six as well as playing good doubles.”Even though Bayliss expects the team to do well in both doubles and singles play, Notre Dame will still look to make a powerful showing against Washington. The Huskies are likely to challenge the Irish from the beginning, and Bayliss said his team team has to be prepared to answer with strong rallies.”We really need to hold our ground and try to be as aggressive as we can and push them around a little bit,” he said.A win over Washington would mark the seventh win at home for the Irish in the indoor spring season – a task Bayliss said is vital to the team’s overall success.”We would like to see a higher percentage of first serves, more aggressive net play and the ability to counter on returns,” Bayliss said. “It’s important that we really conclude the indoor portion of our schedule with a strong win.”