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Men’s Tennis: Irish prepare for tournament

Kate Grabarek | Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Irish opened their spring season this past weekend against William & Mary and Virginia, splitting the two decisions.

“I felt like we played very well over the weekend,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Last year we won 4-3 in the third set of the last match. We lost no more than four games in all but one match and stayed in control the entire time. [Senior] Stephen Havens was dominating at No. 1, playing up on the baseline and dictating play. [Junior] Casey Watt took charge from the start and was never threatened. [Senior] Dan Stahl turned the tables on Sebastian Vidal, avenging a straight set loss from a year ago.”

The Irish have a very deep team this year according to Bayliss, returning all starters from last year and adding a talented group of freshmen.

“The thing that stands out for us this fall has been our depth,” Bayliss said. “We have 10 to 12 players who have demonstrated with quality wins that each is capable of playing and winning at a No. 5 or No. 6 level on a top-25 team. It is difficult to project now what our lineup could be, but at least two of our freshmen have shown that they can win at an elite level.”

The Irish got big matches from Havens this weekend at No. 1 singles, who came up with a big win over William & Mary in a dominating fashion.

“Stephen stood out in a great overall team effort,” Bayliss said. “He played up in the court and dictated play, only allowing Anderson to hold serve once.”

In addition, for the Irish to continue to play well the rest of the season it will be crucial for them to win the doubles points on a consistent basis.

When they played William & Mary over the weekend the Irish were able to earn the doubles point with sweeping all three doubles matches.

The Irish will also need leadership from the top of their lineup.

“As the season develops it will be important for our top guys to continue to hold their current levels or improve them,” Bayliss said. “It can get pretty lonely at the top when you look at the schedule our guys are going to face. Each has moved to an elite level and I want to see them hold it at least where they are. If we can continue to improve our doubles it can become a strength for us, something that has not happened since 2007. Our guys have made a pretty big commitment and I am happy with what I have seen so far.”

The Irish will travel to the National Indoor Qualifier this weekend where they will face Oklahoma on Friday.