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Men’s Tennis: Weekend matches to pose new challenges

Walker Carey | Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Irish will be back in action this weekend as they host William & Mary on Friday night before traveling to Champaign, Ill., to take on Illinois on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame (2-0) enters the weekend fresh off strong victories over Illinois State and Toledo. Despite the team’s convincing victories, Irish coach Bobby Bayliss believes the team needs to focus on the challenges this weekend presents.

“Getting those wins last weekend was great,” Bayliss said, “But we need to move on and get ready for the challenges this weekend brings. Every match is different and every match presents new challenges, so we always need to be well prepared.”

Bayliss added home-court advantage could benefit his team Friday night.

“There are two reasons why our team really likes to play at home,” he said. “Firstly, our guys are comfortable playing at home. Secondly, they are familiar with the Eck Tennis Center. When we go on the road, we have to get acclimated to a new playing service. Every facility is different, so there are often many adjustments that need to be made.”

The strong doubles play of William & Mary will present an opportunity for the Irish doubles teams to step up.

“William & Mary is a pretty good team, and its doubles teams are solid,” Bayliss said. “The No. 1 doubles team took down a North Carolina team last weekend that beat us last year, so they definitely have some strong players. Our doubles teams have been improving, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the challenge William & Mary will bring.”

Hitting the road, the Irish will take on a very talented Illinois team in a regional rivalry match Sunday.

“Illinois is always a competitive team, and we cannot afford to take them lightly,” Bayliss said. “Last season, it was a top-10 team, and this year it is a top-20 team. I think our squad is very comparable. It would be reasonable to predict that the score will be 4-3 going in either direction.”

When discussing the Illini, Bayliss noted the importance of strong play from his singles players.

“Illinois has two really strong players in senior Dennis Nevolo, who is ranked No. 2 nationally, and senior Roy Kalmanovich, who is a very solid player,” he said. “They are going to provide strong competition for [senior Casey] Watt and [sophomore Greg] Andrews, but I know our guys are up to the task.”

Bayliss added there are three things he would like his team to achieve by the time the final point is played Sunday.

“Obviously, I would like to come away from the weekend with two victories,” Bayliss said, “But, I would also like to see our doubles play continue to improve and for our singles lineup to shape up. Last weekend, we played ten guys who all contributed quite well, so, it should be interesting to see who steps up again. We have more guys who are capable of being starters than we do starting positions, and that is a good problem to have.”

The Irish will host William & Mary Friday night at 6 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Center and will hit the court against the Illini on Sunday at 4 p.m.