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Men’s Tennis:Wolverines set to visit No. 25 ND

Kate Grabarek | Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Notre Dame will continue its brutal early-season slate when it hosts Michigan today.

The No. 25 Irish (7-7) and the No. 18 Wolverines (6-6), who will meet at 4 p.m., have both played highly competitive schedules and are fairly even-matched, Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said.

“Down the line they are very solid and have plenty of depth with very strong doubles,” Bayliss said. “It should be another very close match.”

Both teams will be looking to rebound from losses. The Irish fell at Wisconsin, 4-3, Sunday, while the Wolverines lost matches to No. 15 Pepperdine and Washington last week.

After a 5-0 start, Michigan has lost six of its last seven, but still boasts a strong lineup.

“They are coming off their spring break in California, and I’m not sure what that means as it affects our match,” Bayliss said. “Jason Jung is very strong at No. 1 [singles]. [No. 2 singles] Andrew Mazlin has one of the biggest serves in college tennis and a big forehand to back it up. [No. 3 singles] Mike Sroczynski also serves big and rips his forehand.”

Notre Dame’s one weakness has been inconsistency, and that can, in part, be accounted for by the team’s youth. Brett Helgeson, the team’s No. 1 singles player, is the only upperclassman who regularly starts for the Irish.

“In evaluating things to date, I believe we have done well considering that the majority of our matches have been against highly ranked teams,” Bayliss said. “All but one of our top-10 players are freshmen and sophomores and that partially explains how we can beat No. 13 Texas A&M on Friday and lose to No. 30 Wisconsin on Sunday.”

But Notre Dame has been competitive in nearly all its matches, which gives Bayliss reason to see promise for future success, he said.

“Half of our matches have been 4-3 decisions and I expect that trend to continue,” Bayliss said. “The nucleus for future greatness is here, and my job is to see that our guys continue to improve.”

After the Irish host Michigan today they will travel to La Jolla, Calif., over Spring Break to compete in the Pacific Coast Doubles tournament March 5-8.