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Men’s Tennis: Parbhu, Helgeson lead team to NCAAs

Kate Grabarek | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

With six freshman starters, the Irish continued the program’s storied success this season under head coach Bobby Bayliss.

The Irish were led in singles and doubles by junior, Brett Helgeson, who teamed with senior Sheeva Parbhu as the No. 1 doubles team. Parbhu also was the No. 2 singles player that contributed to many wins.

“Helgeson and Parbhu are a strong doubles team,” Bayliss said prior to the NCAA tournament. “They have adapted, and are learning to work better together and know that they can rely on each other.”

While the Irish lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament this season, they finished with a 16-11 record in 2008, and an undefeated record against conference opponents.

The Irish were also able to capture the Big East Conference Championship for the fifth time in six years.

En route to the Big East Championship the Irish defeated Villanova, DePaul, and the University of South Florida.

“We have a very tough schedule,” Bayliss said. “We will face six out of the top-8 teams in the country this season.”

Also early in the season the Irish were able to capture many 4-3 matches early in the season which helped boost their record and ranking. The Irish rose as high as No. 9 this season in the national rankings.

“We won many 4-3 matches early in the season,” Bayliss said. “That is what helped our ranking. We had a rough patch later in the season, but still were able to maintain a good record.”

One of the big 4-3 wins for the Irish came over the Duke Blue Devils on Feb. 3. The No. 11 Irish defeated the No. 15 Blue Devils.

Behind Helgeson and Parbhu in the singles lineup was fellow senior Andrew Roth.

Roth who had battled injuries throughout his career was able to pull through the season and come up with some big wins for the Irish.

“Roth battles in all of his matches,” Bayliss said. “Once he sets his teeth into a match he doesn’t let go. He is a real fighter.”

The Irish featured many freshmen in both the singles and doubles lineups.

Stephen Havens was a staple in the singles lineup at No. 4 singles. Also David Anderson, and Daniel Stahl were able to come up with big wins at five and six singles for the Irish.

“We are very young with six freshmen,” Bayliss said. “Hopefully the experience will help us in the long run. Sometimes a coach wants the players to mature faster than they do. Hopefully we can end our talk with the Gerber people soon.”

Junior Santiago Montoya also played a large role at No. 2 doubles late in the season.

“We felt that a doubles change needed to be made,” Bayliss said. “A doubles team is like a marriage. It can either go well, but after a while things can just fizzle out.”

The Irish will only lose the two seniors, Parbhu and Roth. The team will look to continue the winning tradition at Notre Dame with more experience.