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Men’s Tennis: Irish rally to defeat Wisconsin 5-2

Deirdre Krasula | Monday, February 12, 2007

Wisconsin was looking for its second upset of a ranked team this week against No. 9 Notre Dame Sunday, but the Irish had other plans.

Notre Dame bounced back from early deficits to fight off the Badgers 5-2.

Wisconsin – still high from its upset of No. 10 Miami – had the Irish on their heels from the beginning, taking the doubles point for the early 1-0 lead. Nolan Polley and Moritz Baumann won 8-6 against No. 11 Sheeva Parbhu and Ryan Keckley in No. 1 singles. Stephen Bass and Andrew Roth beat Michael Dierberger and Michael Muskievicz 8-3, but the Badgers locked up the doubles point when Jeremy Sonkin and Lachezar Kasarov secured an 8-5 victory over Brett Helgeson and Barry King.

“It was a set-back at [No. 1] and [No. 2] doubles for us, but hopefully only a temporary one,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said.

The singles matches that followed were just as close as doubles play, but Notre Dame was able to pull away with victories in five out of the six matches to win the overall contest.

Helgeson and King both finished off their opponents in straight sets. Helgeson defeated Baumann, 6-4, 7-6 (3), to garner his sixth-straight victory, while King battled against Dierberger to come away with the 6-3, 7-5 win and improve to 5-2 in dual action.

“[Wisconsin] didn’t quit at all, they didn’t check out at point when they got behind – they made us really earn it,” Bayliss said.

Second and fourth singles proved to be a little bit more trying for Parbhu and Keckley. Parbhu dropped his first set 5-7, but rallied for nearly perfect 6-0 and 6-1 wins in the second and third sets for the victory.

“As the match went on [Parbhu] got better and better, and in the last two sets he was nearly flawless,” Bayliss said.

Keckley also dropped his first set 4-6, but fought back to win 6-2 and 6-3 in his second and third matches, respectively.

Bayliss said Keckley showed a lot of poise. Keckley suffered from back spasms in the second set and had to take a medical timeout to be attended to by a trainer. He came back from his injury and never looked back to take his sixth-straight match win in dual play.

Bass saw little trouble at No. 1 singles as he took the first set 6-1 from Sonkin. Bass again jumped to the early 1-0 lead when Sonkin dropped out of play due to a back injury.

Wisconsin’s only singles point came during No. 6 singles when Felipe Bellido dropped the first set 5-7 to Roth, but picked up his game to win 6-4 and 6-3 in the second and third sets, respectively.

Although the Irish left Madison with a victory behind them, Bayliss said he would like to see the team step up its play in the coming days. He said that the team will try to focus on doubles and net play to prepare for upcoming matches in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

Bayliss expects to see a strong showing from the Badgers throughout the rest of the season as well.

“[Wisconsin] is a very much improved team,” he said. “I can see how they beat Miami, and they will definitely get some good wins along the way.”