The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Men’s Tennis: Irish attempt to boil Purdue

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 22, 2008

The Irish will look to rebound after falling short at the ITA National Indoor championship this past weekend when they play Purdue at home Sunday. Notre Dame (8-3) fell 4-0 and 5-0 to No. 8 UCLA and No. 12 North Carolina, respectively at the Indoor Championship but managed to defeat No. 16 Penn State 4-2.

“I was disappointed in the loss to UCLA,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We gave it a good shot though. The score could have easily been 4-3.”

The Irish were up at No. 1 and No. 2 singles when the Bruins clinched the 4-0 win to end the match.

On Saturday, the Irish faced the Nittany Lions. When Notre Dame and the Irish last faced off in January, the Irish defeated the Nittany Lions 5-2. On Sunday, the Irish fell 5-0 to North Carolina in the final round of the consolation bracket.

“I was pretty disappointed with the loss on Sunday,” Bayliss said. “We underestimated them. They played an inspired match against us and Butler on Saturday. They are one of the top eight in the nation. I didn’t feel all of the guys played their ‘A’ games.”

While the Irish struggled as a team, junior Brett Helgeson provided a bright spot in Seattle.

“Brett won the one match that he finished,” Bayliss said. “He had the match point against UCLA, and could have had three wins if they hadn’t ended the match.”

Another standout on the weekend was freshman Daniel Stahl. Bayliss said that Stahl has continued to surprise the coaching staff, and that his strength lays in his ability to put pressure on people from the back of the court.

Bayliss also noted that Purdue and the Irish have similar lineup styles.

“We both have good top of the lineup players,” Bayliss said. “They are an improved team. They have a very talented No. 1 singles player in sophomore Branko Kuzmanovic.”

Kuzmanovic, a native of Serbia, is a force at the top of the Boilermakers singles and doubles lineup.

“He has pushed a lot of the top players,” Bayliss said. “They also have a new second singles player in sophomore Slavko Bijelica.”

Bayliss also praised Purdue’s coach Tim Madden and noted that the Boilermakers will be feisty and competitive.

The Irish will try to pick up the five match win streak they were on before heading to Seattle last weekend. The match is set to start at noon at the Eck Tennis Pavillion.