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Men’s Tennis: ND starts tournament with East Tennessee St.

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No. 26 Notre Dame will travel to Columbus, Ohio this weekend to face East Tennessee State in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

“They are 23-3 with their only losses coming to No. 4 Georgia, No. 7 Tennessee, and No. 28 Wake Forest,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Their roster is primarily composed of international players.”

If the Irish win in the first round they have a tough bracket ahead of them. Their second round opponent could be No. 2 seed Ohio State.

“We hope we can advance as far as our talent will take us,” Bayliss said. “We have the feeling that we have seen the some of the best teams in the country and that will help us in the tournament.”

Bayliss noted that the Irish have faced six of the top eight teams in the nation throughout this season and have taken a lot of body blows for the tough schedule despite their No. 26 ranking.

This past weekend the Irish travelled to No. 13 Florida State and won a tight 4-3 match. The Irish took an early 3-1 lead before the Seminoles came back to knot the match at 3-3.

For the second time in a week the match was to be decided at the No. 6 singles position, freshman Dan Stahl.

“Dan did a fantastic job of staying aggressive off of the ground once he broke serve early in the third set,” Bayliss said. “There is a natural tendency to become more conservative in that position. Dan continued to play up in the court and go for his shots. He has demonstrated this ability on a consistent basis this season.”

Also coming up with another big win for the Irish in doubles were senior Andrew Roth and junior Santiago Montoya. The team is currently 8-4 since being put together as the No. 2 doubles pair behind senior Sheeva Parbhu and junior Brett Helgeson.

“They have learned to anticipate each other’s movements,” Bayliss said. “Their chemistry has continued to develop as the year has progressed to the point where each feels the other has his back.”

The Irish have not played a match since last Saturday against the Seminoles. The Irish had to start their season a week later than normal again this year in order to accommodate the the NCAAs regulations for length of season in order to fit in the last match between the Big East Tournament and the NCAAs.

For the second straight year the Irish captured the Big East championship, coming up with big wins in each of the three rounds including a 4-3 win over South Florida in the championship match.

“We are trying to schedule practices at times allowing us to be outdoors and in the heat whenever possible,” Bayliss said. “Additionally we will try to continue the improvement of our doubles and on other individual areas of concern.”

The Irish will look to continue their already great season with a deep run into the NCAA Tournament this weekend in Columbus.