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Men’s Tennis: Strong freshman class adds depth to Irish team

Kate Grabarek | Wednesday, January 23, 2008

After a strong end to the fall season, No. 12 Notre Dame will look to carry its success into the spring.

Junior Brett Helgeson and senior Sheeva Parbhu had strong showings in the fall and will be contenders for the No. 1 singles position.

“Parbhu was an All-American last year. Brett [Helgeson] had that kind of fall,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Either one can play the No. 1 singles position.”

Helgeson wasn’t the only one tearing up the courts this fall. The team’s six freshmen also made their presence known, proving that the Irish are a young team, but a deep one.

“We are deeper than last year,” Bayliss said. “[Sophomore Sean] Corrigan and [Junior Santiago] Montoya, traveled with us last year, and are competing for positions this season. We are less experienced but the freshmen will learn from these experiences.”

Freshman Stephen Havens proved himself to be one of the strongest young players for the Irish. Bayliss praised the Cincinnati native for his great timing and ability to make important shots. In addition,

Freshman David Anderson is making great strides at net to complement his groundstrokes.

Bayliss noted the similarity in the playing style of freshman Daniel Stahl and Helgeson. Stahl likes to bang the ball, but needs to come to the net more.

Freshman Tyler Davis has also made contributions early in his career at Notre Dame.

“Davis has made great adjustments already,” Bayliss said. “He has flattened out his forehand and really battles well.”

Senior Andrew Roth has been consistent for the Irish in his final year after being plagued by injuries early in his career.

“Roth has really stepped into a leadership role this year, and has a very determined work ethic,” Bayliss said. “He has become more accountable; he’s a little guy with a big heart.”

Despite his 5-foot-9 frame, Roth plays a big game. He and Havens work well together to form the No. 2 doubles team behind Helgeson and Parbhu.

Still Bayliss is a little wary of the team’s No. 12 ranking entering the season.

“We will see how the young team faces the challenge the first time the ranking starts to fall,” Bayliss said. “The perception may change to try and figure out what they’re doing wrong, when really they just need to learn from the losses.”

Early in the season the Irish only have one major injury on the team. Freshman Matt Johnson is sidelined because of a pectoral injury.

“He served a little bit yesterday, but won’t be ready for this weekend,” Bayliss said. “He hasn’t served in two or three weeks, so it will take a while to get him back into the swing of things.”

The Irish (2-0) defeated No. 40 Penn State 5-2 and Toledo 7-0 at their home doubleheader opener on Jan. 20. The young Notre Dame team will test its strength as it takes on No. 1 Virginia this Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion