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Struggling Irish visit Wolverines

Kate Grabarek | Friday, April 11, 2008

After dropping a 4-3 match Sunday to No. 63 William and Mary, the No. 34 Irish will look to regain some confidence this Saturday when they travel to No. 14 Michigan.

Notre Dame’s loss on Sunday was only its third home loss this season after the team started off strong early in the season with many close wins.

“We won five 4-3 matches early, and rose to No. 9,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “It was an inflated ranking, based on a small body of work.”

Since beating North Carolina 4-3 at the Blue Gray Tennis Classic, the Irish are 1-5 with their only win coming over Ball State on Friday.

Part of the reason for the Irish’s troubles is the tough competition the team has faced.

“We have played perhaps the most difficult schedule,” Bayliss said. “We have and will play six of the top 10 teams.”

Bayliss also noted that when the Irish beat Duke on Feb. 3, the Blue Devils were No. 10 and the win propelled the Irish to No. 9 in the rankings. The Blue Devils are now ranked No. 43.

While the Irish are looking to bounce back, Michigan is looking to do the same. The Wolverines had their 10-match winning streak halted by No. 17 Illinois on Sunday.

“Michigan had a rough weekend,” Bayliss said. “They also played a close match outdoors with Purdue. They have more Big Ten championships than any other team. They are clearly the favorite on paper.”

The Irish haven’t fallen to the Wolverines since 2002 when the Irish were ranked No. 4 and the Wolverines were No. 43.

“This team will be remembered for how we handle the stretch run,” Bayliss said. “It will definitely be challenging. Winning and losing are equally contagious. Each is self-replicating.”

Freshman Dan Stahl had a hard fought win against William and Mary on Sunday. Senior Sheeva Parbhu also had a big win for the Irish over the Tribe on Sunday.

Parbhu rebounded from a loss in doubles with junior Brett Helgeson to jump out to a five game lead in a singles match over Marwan Ramadan. Parbhu clinched the first set easily and raced to a 4-1 lead in the second, winning the match 6-1, 6-1.

On Sunday the Irish will return home to take on Louisville at the Eck Tennis Pavilion at 1:00 p.m.

“Louisville is a very different team,” Bayliss said. “They have a lot of new players and have had a pretty good season.”

The Irish have also been plagued by South Bend’s oft-changing weather. Bayliss noted that the team’s play had been affected by the inability to practice consistently outdoors.