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Men’s Tennis: Doubles partners mesh well

Kate Grabarek | Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On a team with six freshman, one has separated himself from the pack.

Freshman Stephen Havens has distanced himself from the five other freshmen on this season’s squad. Havens and Andrew Roth made up the No. 4 doubles team for the early part of this season.

“The doubles have been playing really well,” coach Bobby Bayliss said. “They make a lot of balls, and have responded well. I am pleased with them overall.”

Roth has been a pleasant surprise for the Irish this season. He battled eye injuries early in his career and has stepped into a leadership role, Bayliss said.

“He has a determined work ethic,” Bayliss said. “He is a lot more accountable on the court. He has a big heart, and can do a lot of things. He will make his opponents work. While Stephen is pretty placid on court, Roth is more fiery.”

Aside from Havens, the rest of the freshmen have made their presence felt.

“They have fit in pretty well,” Bayliss said. “You can’t ignore them, they are very talented. Of our eight starters, four of them are freshmen. They have definitely established themselves.”

With their loss coming to the No. 1 Virginia on Jan. 22 at home, Bayliss still said the team is untested.

“We will see how they handle it if the ranking falls,” Bayliss said. “We’ll see if their perception changes.”

Along with Havens and Roth, the Irish have a strong No. 1 doubles team in senior Sheeva Parbhu and junior Brett Helgeson. “They return as well as anyone in the country,” Bayliss said. “They sometimes break down at net, but have made great improvements. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.”

Junior Santiago Montoya has also been a mainstay in the lineup for the first time this spring. Montoya has been playing with freshman Tyler Davis at No. 3 doubles.

Bayliss said the team is deeper than last year. Montoya and sophomore Sean Corrigan traveled with the team last year, and are now in the hunt for playing time. Bayliss said the team is 10-deep in terms of people who can win on a consistent basis.

The Irish have two more big tests this weekend. Notre Dame will play Wisconsin on Saturday at 1 p.m. and Southern Methodist on Sunday at noon. Both matches will be at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.