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Men’s Tennis: ND to visit Wake Forest and Duke

Walker Carey | Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Irish will be back in action this weekend as they travel to North Carolina to take on a pair of ACC squads.

Notre Dame (4-2) faces Wake Forest (4-1) Friday before making the short trip to Durham, N.C., to face Duke (3-0) Sunday. Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said Notre Dame’s unfamiliarity with Wake Forest might present a challenge in Friday evening’s match.

“The interesting thing about [Wake Forest] is that we have not played them in awhile,” Bayliss said. “All its personnel is new, so we have no experience against any of its players. We have some solid scouting reports that have helped us prepare, but it should be interesting when we actually get out and play.”

Bayliss said the Wake Forest tennis facility and night-match surroundings should lead to a great atmosphere at the contest.

“[Wake Forest] has a really great facility,” Bayliss said. “The bounce is a little more pronounced than at our facility. They have a bit more rubber on the court, so points are probably going to be slightly faster. It will be interesting to see what the environment will be like for the night match. I would imagine there will be a good crowd and I would expect the crowd to be slightly animated.”

Bayliss said the Wake Forest match would be key for momentum before heading to play No. 10 Duke on Sunday.

“It would be really nice to head into Duke coming off a win,” Bayliss said. “Getting the victory before going to Duke would provide us with a little spark and that would be good to have when facing a very talented team.”

In contrast to their unfamiliarity with Wake Forest, the Irish are familiar with Duke and its personnel.

“We have seen [Duke] and its guys a few times,” Bayliss said. “[Duke] is a very strong team and are led by a very good player in junior Henrique Cunha at No. 1 singles. We have never beaten [Cunha] before, but we are looking forward to the challenge that he and the rest of the team presents.”

Though the North Carolina teams offer different challenges, Bayliss said the strategy is quite simple for the Irish to win both matches this weekend.

“We just need to play really well,” he said. “We are facing two quality opponents who we know will be ready to play, so we have to be on top of our guys. I know we are capable of it, so it should be interesting to watch.”

Besides coming away with two victories, Bayliss said he would like to see the Irish doubles play to improve this weekend.

“Getting better doubles play is definitely very important,” he said. “We have been working on it this week because getting that point is such significant momentum going into singles play. I want to see our doubles play improve because it will help our team as a whole improve.”

The Irish travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. to square off with Wake Forest Friday night before heading to Durham, N.C. to take on Duke on Sunday afternoon.