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Men’s Tennis: Irish start year with two wins

Sam Gans | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The No. 28 Irish got their 2012 season off to a fast start with a pair of 7-0 victories Sunday over Illinois State and Toledo at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Senior Casey Watt and sophomore Greg Andrews each contributed to four match wins for Notre Dame (2-0) on the weekend to help propel the Irish past the Redbirds (1-1) and Rockets (2-2). The duo won two doubles matches together and each was victorious in both of their singles matches. Junior Blas Moros and sophomore Wyatt McCoy also won two singles matches Sunday.

The strong play throughout the lineup was an encouraging sign to Irish coach Bobby Bayliss.

“I think we put out a lineup that’s more balanced than in the past,” Bayliss said. “I think the last two or three years, we’ve had trouble winning at the top and I think we have demonstrated at least so far that we’re capable of doing that this year.”

Notre Dame also displaced singles depth, as seniors Sam Keeton and Niall Fitzgerald won their singles matches against the Redbirds, while sophomore Billy Pecor and junior Michael Moore defeated their opponents from Toledo.

“One of the pluses was that we were able to get a number of different players into the match and there’s still two or three more that have a lot of ability that didn’t get a chance to play, but we’re going to try to continue to do that as we go forward,” Bayliss said. “I thought we played pretty well and I think one of the things that showed up was that our depth is more than sufficient.”

Despite the success of the season’s first two matches, Bayliss noted areas where the Irish could improve.

“We need to demonstrate the ability to break serve better in doubles and we need to finish out matches when we have opportunities,” he said. “There were several matches we won, but we were well up and allowed them to come close.”

With an upcoming schedule that will continue to test the Irish, including matches this weekend against William & Mary and Illinois, Bayliss knows he will get a chance to see just how strong this Notre Dame squad is.

“We’ll go from two teams we beat somewhat comfortably this weekend [to] a pretty good William & Mary team and an Illinois team that last year was in the top 10 most of the year and this year is at least a top 20 team,” Bayliss said. “And then we follow up the next weekend with Indiana — top 25 most of last year — and Ohio State, who’s No. 2 or 3 most of the year. So it doesn’t take us long to jump right into the fire and find out where we are.”

The Irish square off against William & Mary at Eck Tennis Pavilion on Friday at 6 p.m.

Contact Sam Gans at [email protected]