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Men’s Tennis: Doubles teams lead Notre Dame to victory

Katelyn Grabarek | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Solid play from the doubles teams led the No. 24 Irish to defeat the No. 4 Illini at the Eck Tennis Pavilion Tuesday.

The Irish opened the match strong with wins at both No. 2 and No. 3 doubles.

Irish senior Stephen Havens and junior Casey Watt took down Illinois senior Connor Roth and sophomore Stephen Hoh 8-2 at No. 2 doubles. Irish senior Tyler Davis and freshman Greg Andrews defeated sophomore Bruno Abdelnour and red-shirt freshman Brian Alden by the same score at No. 3 doubles.

Irish junior Niall Fitzgerald and sophomore Spencer Talmadge did not finish their match at No. 1 since the doubles point was already decided, but were leading seniors Abe Souza and Johnny Hamui 5-4 when play stopped.

“By beginning singles play with a 1-0 lead it means that if we split the singles we will win. This takes a lot of pressure off our guys to start singles,” Irish coach Bob Bayliss said.

Sophomore Blas Moros came out ahead of Roth 6-0, 6-1 at No. 6 singles to give the Irish a 2-0 lead.

Irish senior Dan Stahl defeated No. 65 Souza 6-4, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

Illini junior Roy Kalmanovich put Illinois on the board when he defeated No. 124 Havens 6-4, 6-1 at No. 2 singles.

Hoh got Illinois’ second point by defeating Andrews at No. 4 singles in three sets, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Fitzgerald had a tough fight at No. 5 singles, winning the first set in a tiebreak 7-6, then dropping the second set 6-3. He rebounded to win the third 6-1, earning the point for Notre Dame.

No. 64 Watt also pulled out a three-set win at No. 1 over No. 62 Hamui. He won the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6, then dropped the second 6-4, before coming back to win the third 6-2.

“Winning at the top positions can be very difficult for anyone,” Bayliss said. “Match after match you are going to face the other teams’ best players. Given the strength of our schedule that means our guys are going to play many of the best college players in the country.”

This was Watt’s second straight No. 1 singles win after he defeated Joshua Graves of Northwestern on Sunday.

The Irish will travel to Boca Raton, Fla. to play at the U.S. National Junior Team, before hitting the road again to face Kentucky.