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    Men's Tennis Opens Season On Sunday Against Illinois State and Toledo

    FIGHTING IRISH Senior co-captain Sam Keeton.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Senior co-captain Sam Keeton.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Jan. 14, 2012

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 28 Notre Dame men's tennis team kicks off the 2012 season on Sunday when they host Illinois State and Toledo at Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish open with the Redbirds at 9 a.m. and then meet the Rockets at 6 p.m.

    Both matches, which are two of three straight to open the year at home, can be followed via live stats.

    "It's always exciting when the first match of the year is upon us," said head coach Bobby Bayliss. "We know Illinois State has a talented top part of their lineup, including a nationally-ranked doubles team. We saw them a little bit in the fall and it should make for a great match. Toledo has a lot of new faces. We are anxious to see how we stack up with them."

    The Irish are coming off an impressive fall that culminated in two individuals and two doubles teams advancing to the final eight of the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Championships. Senior Casey Watt advanced all the way to the final four, where he fell to No. 8 Blaz Rola.

    Over the winter break, Watt won national championships in doubles and mixed doubles at the USTA National Men's Open, Women's Open and Mixed Open Indoor National Championships, while senior co-captain Niall Fitzgerald took home the singles title at the David Lloyd National Indoor Championships in his native Ireland.

    Also opening their season tomorrow will be senior co-captain Sam Keeton, who opens the year ranked 74th, and a trio of freshmen in Dougie Barnard, Michael Fredericka and Wyatt McCoy.

    Last year the Irish ended the season ranked No. 31 and fell to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Championships.

    Illinois State ended the 2011 campaign at 15-8, falling to Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, while Toledo ended the 2011 season at 24-10 after advancing to the MAC Championship match.

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