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Men’s Tennis: Irish finish fall season with tourney in Virginia

Katelyn Grabarek | Thursday, November 1, 2007

Notre Dame travels to Virginia this weekend hoping to put an exclamation point on the end of an already strong fall season.

The Irish played well at the Olympia Field’s Invitational in Chicago Sept. 13-16, sweeping all six matches against last spring’s national runner-up Illinois. Notre Dame then went on to win 27 singles matches while hosting the Tom Fallon Invitational in South Bend Sept. 28-30.

The Irish will look to close the fall season with the same success at the William and Mary Invitational, which starts this morning in Virginia.

While the singles players have excelled so far, the doubles teams have been a weak spot for the Irish throughout the early part of the season.

“The doubles teams had a disappointing showing this past weekend [at the ITA Midwest Championships],” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “They have had a rough time this fall. We are still working on moving together and we will try to get them ready for the spring season.”

Notre Dame has managed to stay afloat with strong individual efforts from the top of their lineup. Senior captain Sheeva Parbhu and junior Brett Helgeson have led the way for Notre Dame in singles.

“Helgeson played world-class tennis this past weekend,” Bayliss said. “It was the signature event of his career to date. He did a much better job of managing his on court anxieties. He always gives 100 percent on court, but we’re trying to get him to relax.”

Helgeson upended Steve Moneke of Ohio State, the second-seeded player in the nation. Helgeson won the tight match in three sets, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

“Helgeson prepared well,” Bayliss said. “He did pull an abdominal muscle in the match which hindered his serving abilities in his semifinal match.”

Helgeson lost his semifinal match to Ryan Rowe of Illinois 6-1, 6-4. With the win, he would have earned an automatic bid into this weekend’s ITA National Intercollegiate Tennis Championships. Instead, Helgeson will go with the rest of the Irish to the William and Mary Invitational.

“Parbhu also played well this past weekend,” Bayliss said. “He played the tournament winner in the Round of 16 and didn’t quite play well enough to win.”

Parbhu and 2007 graduate Stephen Bass reached the National Championships last season.

Freshman David Anderson also had a promising performance at the last weekend’s tournament. He won his first round match over Marquette’s Nick Boulieris, but lost a close match in the next round to Jeremy Sonkin of Wisconsin.

Senior Andrew Roth has rebounded well after spraining his ankle in the Olympia Field’s Invitational.

“Roth has done well for us after he sprained his ankle,” Bayliss said. “He had a convincing win in round one, but fell in the round of 32 against Austen Childs of Louisville.”

This weekend’s tournament marks the end of the fall season. Bayliss said the team will train individually during the winter months.

“The players want to continue to improve,” Bayliss said. “The amount of competition among this team is great, and they all push each other. They will go home on Christmas break and come back refreshed to start the spring season.”