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ND Men’s Tennis: Team falls to defending champs

Mike Gotimer | Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On March 1, Notre Dame traveled to Illinois to face the defending national runner-up. In the end, the No. 7 Fighting Illini proved why they advanced so far in last season’s tournament, as they easily defeated the No. 15 Irish by a score of 6-1.

The Illini began the match with two decisive performances to get the doubles point. Irish junior Brett Helgeson and senior Sheeva Parbhu fell 8-2 to the Illini pair of senior Ryan Rowe and sophomore Billy Heiser, who are ranked No. 20 nationally. With the loss, Helgeson and Parbhu fell to 8-5 on the year.

The No. 27 Illini pair of senior Brandon Davis and senior Ruben Gonzales, ranked No. 27 nationally sealed the doubles point with an 8-3 win over the Irish duo of junior Santiago Montoya and senior Andrew Roth. Irish freshmen Stephen Havens and Tyler Davis earned the only Irish doubles win with an 8-5 triumph over the Illini’s No. 3 pair of freshmen Abe Souza and Connor Roth.

Irish freshman David Anderson recorded Notre Dame’s only other point of the match out of the No. 4 singles slot. Anderson defeated Illini junior Marc Spicjaric. Anderson lost the first set 5-7, but he rebounded to take the second set 6-2 and clinched the match in a tiebreak, 1-0 (10-8). With the win, Anderson improved to 15-9 on the year. Anderson was also one of four Irish freshmen to start in singles play on the day.

Anderson’s strong performance could not be matched by his teammates, as Illinois won the other five singles matches, including four in straight sets. Illinois earned its first singles point when No. 30 Heiser defeated Havens in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. It was Havens’ first match at the No. 3 spot and he fell to 7-6 on the year with the loss.

Illinois’ momentum continued as Gonzales defeated Irish captain Parbhu 6-2, 6-3 in straight sets. The loss dropped Parbhu to 19-8 on the year.

Ryan Rowe clinched the match for Illinois with a straight-set 6-3, 6-4 win over national No. 32 Helgeson. Rowe also defeated Helgeson this fall at the ITA Midwest Region Championships. Despite the loss, Helgeson still holds and impressive 22-5 record on the season.

The Irish woes continued as freshman Dan Stahl lost to Illinois freshman Waylon Chin in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. Illinois earned its final point when Souza won a tiebreak over Davis at No. 6. Davis won the second set in a tiebreaker after dropping the first set 6-1, but he was defeated 10-3 in the match tiebreaker. The loss was Davis’ first singles loss of the spring.