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Men’s Tennis: Irish look to capitalize on victory

Chris Michalski | Thursday, March 5, 2009

Notre Dame finished a stretch of six games in two weeks with a 5-2 win over Michigan Wednesday. Strong singles play was the key to the victory, with the Irish taking first through fifth singles.

The Wolverines swept the three doubles matches, giving them an early 1-0 lead. Irish sophomore Tyler David played his first singles match since Feb. 21 against Ohio State, but fell in a second set tie-breaker to Michigan’s Drew Daniel. The rest of the Irish players won their matches, including No. 21 Brett Helgeson, who came from behind to defeat Jason Jung 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Irish sophomore Stephen Havens defeated Michigan’s Andrew Mazlin, who coach Bobby Bayliss described as having “one of the biggest serves in college tennis.”

With the win, Notre Dame rose above .500 with a record of 8-7. The Irish will now gear up for a four-day spring break trip to California starting today.

“The biggest thing we try to get in California is outdoor play. The college tennis world by this time is pretty much an outdoor one, but South Bend does not always accommodate that schedule,” Bayliss said.

The Irish will have to adjust to wind conditions and alter their footwork, as the ball tends to change directions more outside. The Irish will be attending Pacific Coast Doubles, a prestigious event featuring big-name schools like UCLA, USC, California, Stanford and Pepperdine.

“Our guys are pretty excited about [the Pacific Coast Doubles], so motivation will not be a problem,” Bayliss said.

As the season progresses toward playoffs, Bayliss said his team must improve its doubles play and get more production from the lower portion of the lineup. The team is inexperienced, and maturity may be a factor come playoff time.

“Our young guys are quite capable, but predictably have difficulty playing as well in matches as they do in practice,” Bayliss said.

The Irish return home March 28 and 29 against South Florida and Illinois.