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Men’s Tennis: Bayliss expects better play from starters

Walker Carey | Thursday, August 25, 2011

Following last season’s defeat in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Irish coach Bob Bayliss believes this year’s team has a chance to end the season on a more positive note.

“Although it is early on, I believe we have a chance to get better,” Bayliss said. “We have a lot of experience and a lot of depth. We have more guys that are capable of starting than there are starting spots, and that is a good problem to have.”

While Notre Dame returns many key contributors, Bayliss believes there are some facets of the game the team needs to continue to work on.

“Although doubles matches are only worth one point, that one point is a key to momentum,” Bayliss said. “Along with finishing matches, I believe our biggest improvement must be in nailing that doubles point.”

Senior Casey Watt returns at the No. 1 singles position. Watt fell in the first round of last season’s NCAA Singles Championship, and Bayliss believes he can capitalize on that experience by making improvements to advance even further this season.

“[Watt] has high expectations coming into the season,” Bayliss said. “He can become even more successful if he embraces coming to the net and improves his short forehands.”

The Irish also return sophomore Greg Andrews, who will likely take the reigns at the No. 2 singles spot from the graduated Stephen Havens. Andrews, who was last season’s Big East Freshman of the Year, had a successful summer, earning his first ATP point.

Even with his recent successes, Andrews does not believe he will feel any additional pressure.

“There really is no pressure,” Andrews said. “I am just going to concentrate on building on my success and doing anything to help the team succeed.”

The Irish finished as runners-up in last season’s Big East tournament, falling to champion Louisville. But this season, Bayliss believes there may be several teams fighting for the conference crown.

“The Big East [championships] is at USF this season and that definitely makes them a major player,” Bayliss said. “Louisville graduated four of their top five from last season, but they have a couple freshmen that should make a significant impact. I would also look for DePaul to be a contender due to their returnees.”

Despite a more competitive landscape, Bayliss is confident in his team’s ability to advance even further this season.