The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Men’s Tennis: Notre Dame finishes fall season with Gopher Invitational

Sam Gans | Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Irish hit the road for their final competition of the fall season, when they take on a tough field at the Gopher Invitational in Minneapolis.

Notre Dame joins three other squads in the tournament: Minnesota, Denver and Nebraska. Irish coach Bobby Bayliss believes the strong opposition is a good test for the Irish before they enter a two-month hiatus.

“Each of the coaches will know where we are against a pretty representative field,” Bayliss said. “Nebraska has an outstanding top part of their lineup with a lot of older guys — seniors who have done well over the course of their careers. Minnesota is generally a top-25 team. They are right in there roughly at that top-25 level. Denver is a team that this year will have a good chance to make the NCAA tournament. All of those teams are likely to be in the NCAA tournament.”

The format for the invitational consists of a round-robin pod system, with eight players in each pod. The No. 1 and No. 2 players from each team will compete against each other, as will No. 3 and No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 and so on.

However, Bayliss also said the format will work out where each team will play each other in a system similar to spring dual matches, which are not allowed by the NCAA during the fall tennis season.

Though the format may resemble dual matches, there are noticeable differences.

“First of all, in a dual match, only six matches count and we’re playing 10,” Bayliss said. “Secondly, there is no team scoring [at the Gopher Invitational] so there won’t be a team winner. They may have an all-tournament team or something at the end. But there will be no team scoring.”

With the Gopher Invitational marking the final time the Irish will face other squads until the indoor season in January, Bayliss is curious to see how his team plays, especially some of the doubles pairings.

“We’re going to keep [senior] Niall Fitzgerald and [junior] Spencer Tallmadge together,” Bayliss said. “They’re ranked pretty high nationally. And I think they’ll play well. And then [senior] Casey Watt and [sophomore] Greg Andrews have played together in the past and we’re going to keep them together.

“[Senior] Sam Keeton and [sophomore] Billy Pecor is an interesting dynamic. They’re pretty darn good on the return end of things. They’re going to return serve well, they’re going to really play aggressively. They’re going to make it difficult for you to hold serve. And I’m anxious to see them develop. In practice, they’ve been as good as anybody on our team. And so that will be kind of fun to see.”

The Irish conclude their fall season with the Gopher Invitational, which begins today and runs through Sunday in Minneapolis.