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Men’s Tennis: Season’s venue change presents challenge

Sam Gans | Monday, January 23, 2012

Usually, sports are either competed solely indoors or solely outdoors. A few games or matches throughout the year may differ in a sport like football, but it’s atypical for teams to divide their season in half between the two.

One of the few exceptions is tennis.

With a schedule that begins in January and runs through the NCAA tournament in May, the Irish and other NCAA opponents start their season under a roof and heating before heading outside when better weather arrives.

Though no rules change once the Irish move outdoors in the spring, there are differences in the way the game is played, which can severely alter both strategy and outcome.

“The difference between playing indoors and playing outdoors is quite significant,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Adjustments need to be made for both. When we play indoors and the conditions are always pretty much the same, we play faster and more aggressively. When we are outdoors and have to deal with a variety of conditions, we need to slow down our play and play more cautiously.”

Irish senior Casey Watt echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“[Playing indoors] is a lot cleaner game. It’s a lot faster. Points are usually shorter. There’s no elements or anything,” Watt said. “Once you go outdoors, you’ve got the wind, the sun, the ball travels through the air slower and the points are longer.”

The faster style of indoor play better suits Watt, he said, but he expects himself and his teammates to be able to transition effectively when the time comes to make the switch.

“I usually prefer the indoor tennis – the faster points and so on,” Watt said. “But I think I’m getting better at adjusting. As a team, we’re usually pretty good adjusting to the outdoor climate.”

Though there are noted differences between the indoor and outdoor game, a large reason for being able to adjust smoothly is similar game preparation, whether indoors at the Eck Tennis Pavilion or outdoors at the Courtney Tennis Center.

“The preparation for playing indoors is not too much different from the preparation for playing outdoors,” Bayliss said. “It’s still the same game and our guys are used to playing both indoors and outdoors, so the adjustments come quite naturally.”

The Irish will continue the indoor portion of their season when they travel to Columbus, Ohio this weekend to face Indiana on Saturday and either Ohio State or Cornell on Sunday.



Contact Sam Gans at [email protected]