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Men’s Tennis: Irish to split up over weekend

By Megan Finneran | Friday, September 14, 2012

Two weeks have passed since the Notre Dame squad traveled to Ireland to face members of the country’s elite players.

Today it begins the first of many invitationals this season, where it will face competition from schools across the country. The team split the weekend, with some members traveling to Illinois for the sixth annual Olympia Fields Country Club (OFCC) Fighting Illini Invitational and others traveling to Kalamazoo, Mich., for the Vredevelt Invitational.

The Irish send their top players to the Illini Invitational, where they will face Pepperdine, California, Illinois, Kentucky and Texas. Leading the team is senior Greg Andrews, who recently received a No. 24 preseason ranking. He stands as the highest-ranked singles player in the Big East.

Despite a 9-3 loss in that exhibition match in Ireland on Aug. 31, the team is ready to jump into the season with high hopes and lessons learned from their first match together, Irish senior Blas Moros said.

“We’ve been working a lot on structuring points and being aggressive at the right time,” Moros said.

Similar to the challenges presented by the artificial grass courts in Ireland, the Olympia Fields Country Club features Har-Tru clay courts that will take some getting used to.

“This is our only clay court tournament, but our goals are always the same: Keep working on individual improvements and rack up as many wins as possible,” Moros said.

The OFCC Invitational will include four rounds of singles matches and three rounds of doubles matches. Andrews and the Irish will contend against nine other nationally-ranked singles players, only two of whom are ranked ahead of Andrews, and two ranked doubles teams. Pepperdine boasts No. 3 Sebastian Fanselow and Kentucky presents No. 12 Anthony Rossi. Each of the six schools involved made an appearance in the 2012 NCAA tournament, including Pepperdine, which finished ranked sixth in the nation. Notre Dame finished 29th last year.

“These are all premier teams so they will all be big threats,” Moros said. “It will be an awesome weekend with high-level tennis at a beautiful club.”

The other half of the Irish team will spend the weekend in Kalamazoo, competing in the Vredevelt Invitational hosted by Western Michigan. There they will face Western Michigan, Illinois State, Green Bay, Xavier and Cleveland State. The hosting Broncos fell to Illinois in the NCAA tournament last season to end 17-12 overall.

The weekend will kick off in Illinois at 10 a.m. with the first round of doubles matches. Both tournaments will conclude Sunday.