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Consistent success in singles paces Irish

Meaghan Veselik | Thursday, February 18, 2010

While the Irish have been working on finding a balance in their doubles, the Notre Dame singles are consistently coming out on top.

Leading the Irish at No. 1 singles is sophomore Casey Watt, a member of the recruiting class that was ranked fifth nationally by a tennisrecruiting.net poll, one of the top comprehensive sources for tennis recruiting in the country.

Watt opened up the 2010 season with a new national ranking of No. 18 from his Fall 2009 ranking of No. 90, helped by his runner-up performance at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships last October after defeating some of the top-seeded players from Ohio State, Illinois and Wisconsin. Watt’s powerful play has carried over into the spring as he has held strong at No. 1 singles.

As a freshman, Watt was one of three named to the All-Big East team and earned Big East Academic All-Star honors. The 6-foot sophomore recorded a 28-5 overall record in singles play for his rookie year, going 10-0 in open play and 18-5 in dual season singles, making the highest wins by an first Irish freshman since Sheeva Parbhu went 20-3 in 2005.

Five of Watt’s victories gave Notre Dame match wins, four of them against ranked teams. Watt also had three wins coming from behind and posted an 8-2 overall record in three-set matches. He was able to defeat reputable players such as then senior Michael Breler of then-ranked No. 20 Texas Tech, then senior Mahmound Hamed of then-No.41 South Florida, and junior Simon Childs of then-No. 23 Lousiville.

On the doubles side of his freshman year, Watt and No. 2 Irish singles junior Stephen Havens posted a 12-12 record in dual play at No. 2 doubles for Notre Dame. Together, they managed to secure a doubles point a team-high six times for the Irish.

As a sophomore, Watt has continued to advance as a player and in his record. He has gone 14-5 in singles, 5-4 against nationally ranked teams and 5-8 with junior teammate Tyler Davis.

The Irish’s No. 2 singles position has seen strong play come from Havens this 2010 season. The 5-foot-11 junior presently holds the No. 93 national ranking after posting a 10-15 mark his sophomore year, and going 8-9 thus far in his junior year. Last fall, he managed to play tough against some of the country’s top competitors, such as then-No. 13 Texas A&M’s junior Austin Krajicek in a three-set match to clinch the Notre Dame victory.
Also on Havens’ résumé are a first-round Big East championship win over Georgetown’s sophomore Andrew Bruhn and recording three match-clinching points during the fall of his sophomore year. Havens playing a significant role for the Irish his freshman year, going 20-21 in singles play. He went 9-5 in the open season and 11-16 in dual play. On the doubles side, Havens went 12-11 in dual play, recording a 9-4 record with Davis for the year. The duo of Havens and Davis also secured the doubles point for the Irish seven times.

This season, Havens has been pairing with fellow juniors Daniel Stahl and Davis, as well as freshman Niall Fitzgerald at the No. 2 doubles spot.

As they head further into their spring season, the Irish have much to look forward to from these two key players as they lead Notre Dame on the court.