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Men’s Tennis: Team heads to William and Mary

Kate Grabarek | Thursday, November 6, 2008

Senior Brett Helgeson will travel to Charlottesville, Va., to compete in the ITA National Indoors this weekend, while the rest of the team will compete in the William and Mary Invitational in Williamsburg.

“We are involved in two events this weekend,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Brett Helgeson was able to get into the ITA National Indoors in Charlottesville. This is an elite event limited to the top 32 players in the country and Brett secured one of only six at-large slots. The best thing about this appearance is the opportunity to play some of the country’s best players, thus securing a strong national ranking, increasing his NCAA status.”

Helgeson is coming off a run to the quarterfinals in the ITA Midwest Regional event that was held in Columbus, Ohio on Oct. 17-19. Helgeson lost to a German player from Wisconsin named Marek Michalika.

Helgeson was ranked No. 25 in the national preseason rankings.

“I think Brett had a very strong showing at regionals,” Bayliss said. “He reached the quarters against a very strong field, losing to a red-hot German player from Wisconsin. He demonstrated poise beyond what he had shown a year ago and is finding more ways to get to the net and put pressure on his opponents.”

Among the teams that will be at the William and Mary Invitational are Maryland, William and Mary and the College of Charleston.

The Irish again will turn to a team of young talent to lead them and prove that they are a squad to be reckoned with.

“We are making progress this fall,” Bayliss said. “Our youth is pretty scary, but at times we look like we will be pretty good. There is a chance that all of our starters except Brett will be freshmen and sophomores.”

Bayliss also said that with the team’s youth comes enthusiasm and the willingness to exert maximum effort in every practice.

Notre Dame will rely heavily on young leadership from sophomores Tyler Davis and Dan Stahl with some help from David Anderson, Bayliss said.

Stephen Havens, last season’s No. 4 singles player, will be relied upon to get some upper lineup wins this season.

Sophomore Matt Johnson will also be a force in both singles and doubles, Bayliss said. Sean Tan will also travel with the team to Williamsburg this weekend.

“Our freshmen have been quite good, if somewhat inconsistent,” Bayliss said. “Sometimes the best thing about freshman is they become sophomores, but this group can be really good if they buy in. Casey Watt is a real shot-maker who needs only to improve his volleys and become more consistent. Niall Fitzgerald needs to believe in himself more at crunch time and firm up his backhand. Sam Keeton has been practicing without being able to use his best shot – a two-handed back hand – because his right wrist has been broken.”

All of those players will be important if the Irish are to have success this season, and in the spring. After the William and Mary Invitational, the team will take a break until they face Pepperdine on Jan. 16.