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Men’s Tennis: Notre Dame blanks Spartans

Deirdre Krasula | Thursday, March 29, 2007

When Notre Dame wins this season, it wins big. The No. 5 Irish swept Michigan State 7-0 on the road Wednesday to bring them to 17-3 on the season – their sixth shutout so far.

Due to inclement weather in East Lansing, the match, originally scheduled to be outside, was moved indoors.

Notre Dame has struggled with the courts of the Michigan State Indoor Tennis Center in the past. The Irish inched past the Spartans in February 2005 with a 4-3 victory.

With the decisive 7-0 win, Notre Dame ended any troubles it had with East Lansing.

“This year, we laid those ghosts to rest,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said.

The Irish jumped out to an early lead taking the doubles point. The team has faltered in doubles play recently but regained its momentum in its past two matches.

Notre Dame relied heavily on singles play to secure wins in the final rounds of the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic earlier this month. The Irish dropped the doubles point to Tulsa and Alabama in the semifinals and finals of the tournament before going on to win each match, and ultimately the championship 4-1.

Bayliss said while the team has been struggling in doubles play, it has also been competing against very strong opponents. Tulsa’s No. 41 duo of Diego Camacho and Ross Cunningham defeated Notre Dame’s Barry King and Brett Helgeson 8-3 in the semifinals of the Blue/Gray.

“We’ve been playing some pretty darn good doubles teams,” Bayliss said.

The Irish doubles teams had an easier time against Michigan State. Stephen Bass and Andrew Roth spent little time defeating Tyler Sauerbrey and Jason Norville 8-1 at the No. 3 spot. The No. 2 Irish doubles team of Brett Helgeson and Graham King clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 win over Michael Flowers and Alex Forger. Ryan Keckley and Sheeva Parbhu were unable to finish off the Irish burst and fell 8-6 to Adam Monich and Nick Rinks.

The team has been working on improving doubles play, Bayliss said, and it has paid off.

“We have focused on our positioning and our shot selection and it is paying some dividends,” he said.

After securing the doubles point, Notre Dame readily took to singles play. King was first off the courts for Notre Dame with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Norville at the No. 4 spot. Keckley was next in line with another straight-set victory, defeating Scott Rasmussen 6-3, 6-4. No. 54 Parbhu clinched the win for the Irish with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Forger.

No. 8 Bass was last off the courts for the Irish as he battled in his second set against No. 45 Rinks. Bass took the first set 6-3 from Rinks but the second set was neck and neck and was forced into a tiebreaker. Bass finally won the set 9-7 for the match victory.

“[Bass] is a terrific competitor,” Bayliss said. “He hit big serves at key times in the match, and the win was a result of his ability to attack while still maintaining a solid back-court game.”

Bass’s win over Rinks swept the match for Notre Dame.

The Irish next take on No. 3 Ohio State Friday on the road.