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Men’s Tennis: No. 11 Seminoles present another challenge for?Notre Dame

Laura Myers | Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Irish have already faced some of the nation’s top teams – and they’re just getting started.

No. 30 Notre Dame (1-2) hosts No. 11 Florida State (2-2) today at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Seminoles are the third ranked team Notre Dame has faced so far.

“We certainly have already faced quality opposition in this young season,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “So even though the Seminoles are a strong national level team, we should be ready for that level of play.”

The young Irish squad, which only has one upperclassman in senior Brett Helgeson, won a 7-0 match at William & Mary Saturday but lost 0-7 at No. 5 Virginia on Sunday.

“While Virginia was very talented,” Bayless said. “I don’t think we really gave ourselves a real chance to win because we checked out of too many points and didn’t leave our comfort zone at crucial times. Several of our guys learned something in Charlottesville. Hopefully we will see a difference [today].”

The Seminoles are coming off of a loss as well, a 4-2 decision against No. 2 Texas.

This will be Florida State’s first indoor match of the season and Notre Dame’s second match at home. The first was a tough 4-3 loss to No. 14 Pepperdine on Jan. 16.

“Being at home is always an advantage,” Bayliss said. “You are playing on the same courts on which you practice, the fans aren’t questioning your manhood, and the other team, hopefully, is adjusting on the fly to the surface, visual background, etc. The support we got playing Pepperdine was gratifying and I think our freshmen were pleasantly surprised with the cheering.”

Florida State, which has several individually ranked players, will bring a challenge in singles and doubles.

“We are playing top 20 teams in five of our first six matches,” Bayliss said. “Clearly this schedule involved risk, but I believe that we are talented enough to handle some of these top teams if we match what we see on the court each day in practice.”

First doubles will match the Irish’s No. 37 duo of Helgeson and sophomore Tyler Davis with the Seminoles’ No. 23 pair of Jean-Yves Aubone and Clint Bowles. At second doubles, the Seminoles bring the No. 47 team of Drew Bailey and Maciek Sycut to face Irish sophomore Stephen Havens and freshman Casey Watt.

The Irish bring two ranked singles players to the competition in No. 20 Helgeson and No. 112 Dan Stahl, a sophomore. The Seminoles bring three in No. 29 Bowles, No. 30 Aubone and No. 79 Sykut.

The Irish have defeated the Seminoles five straight times, the most recent win a 4-3 decision in Tallahassee in 2008.

The match will begin at 4:30 p.m.