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MEN’S TENNIS: Squad focuses on doubles in Parbhu’s absence

Joe Meixell | Thursday, October 18, 2007

Even though senior captain Sheeva Parbhu was away at the ITA All-American championships in Tulsa, Okla., last week, Notre Dame continued practicing its doubles skills and learning to work as a team to prepare for the ITA Midwest Championships today.

Parbhu, the lone Irish representative at the prestigious championships, fell in the opening and consolation rounds. While he was gone, however, the team continued to hone its skills.

“We focused on doubles competition,” assistant coach Ryan Sachire said. “We essentially developed four strong doubles teams that we will send to regionals.”

The first pair consists of Andrew Roth and Parbhu.

“Roth is ready to play singles and doubles this weekend,” Sachire said. “Overall we’re pretty healthy minus a few nicks from practice this week. There shouldn’t be any major setbacks, unless the nicks turn into bigger problems.”

The other team consists of juniors Brett Helgeson and Santiago Montoya. The Irish will also send out the freshman doubles duo of Tyler Davis and Stephen Havens. The other team will be freshman Matt Johnson and a partner to be named later.

“We focused on moving together, and producing a fluid game,” Sachire said. “We also worked on teamwork and learning what our partners strengths and weaknesses are. Movement is key to doubles. We really want the guys to gel, and communicate on court.”

The doubles matches may only count for one point of the total score in a team match, but both Sachire and head coach Bobby Bayliss know the importance of getting the point and have stressed it to the younger players.

“The upperclassmen know how important it is,” Sachire said. “It sets the tone for the rest of the match. It can either make or break a team because you play doubles first. It is hard to win four singles matches off of any team in the country, the doubles point is crucial.”

The team has come a long way this fall from its opening match in Chicago. There have been a few surprises, but overall Sachire and Bayliss are pleased with the progress.

“We have a number of quality tennis players and good guys,” Sachire said. “Everyday the guys bring it and are in it together. They really see the big picture. Everyone is competing at a high level and really feed off of each other. Last year we had a lot of talent, but there was a clear break off from the top six to the rest of the team. This year we are all one team.”