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Men’s Tennis: Irish win one, lose one in Virginia

Grabarek, Katelyn | Monday, January 26, 2009

The No. 30 Irish earned a 7-0 victory over the Tribe of William and Mary on Saturday, and then dropped a 7-0 decision against No. 5 Virginia on Sunday.

After dropping their season opener last Sunday to Pepperdine, the Irish were able to bounce back on Saturday and earn their first victory of the season.

“I think our guys are handling the loss to Pepperdine as well as can be expected,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We could not have played any harder and we certainly left everything out on the court. Certainly we were in a position to win it in a couple of matches, but that is the nature of competitive sports.”

A year ago, the Irish dropped their match to William and Mary. Bayliss noted that this was not one of the team’s best matches.

However, a year later the team looked dominant earning singles wins from, senior Brett Helgeson, sophomores Stephen Havens and Dan Stahl and freshmen Casey Watt, Sam Keeton and Niall Fitzgerald.

“Each of our guys had some shortcomings which are correctable,” Bayliss said. “For example, both Casey [Watt] and Stephen [Havens] needed to be more aggressive and get to the net more often, so we need to provide them patterns to facilitate this for them.”

For the second straight match, Keeton started at No. 5 singles, while Fitzgerald made his dual-match season debut for the Irish winning in a tiebreaker third set.

The Irish swept the doubles point, when No. 37 Helgeson, and Tyler Davis, defeated the No. 52 team in the nation. Havens and Watt teamed up at No. 2 doubles for their victory, and Fitzgerald and sophomore Matt Johnson earned the doubles sweep at three doubles.

In Sunday’s match that began with doubles, Johnson and Fitzgerald dropped their No. 3 doubles match to Lee Singer and Drew Courtney by a score of 8-2.

Virginia was able to claim the doubles point with a victory by its No. 3 ranked doubles team of Sanam Singh and Huston Barrick over Helgeson and Davis by a score of 8-4.

Havens and Watt took an early 3-2 lead over No. 27 Dominic Inglot and Michael Shabaz, but were not able to hold on falling by a final of 8-7 (9-7).

“Michael Shabaz hits as clean a ball as you see anywhere,” Bayliss said. “Sanam Singh is also a great ball striker. Throw in Huston Barrick’s serve-and-volley game and you have a very strong returning nucleus with which to contend.”

At No. 1 singles Helgeson matched up against Inglot who is ranked No. 43. After falling behind early, Helgeson was never able to recover falling 4-6, 7-5, 10-7.

No. 24 Singh was able to defeat Havens at No. 2 singles 6-1, 6-0, while No. 112 Stahl fell to No. 11 Shabaz by a score of 6-1, 6-2.

Watt was faced with No. 68 Barrick at No. 4 singles losing 6-4, 6-2. No. 109 Singer defeated Fitzgerald and No. 5 singles, while sophomore David Anderson dropped his match at No. 6 singles by the same score.

The Irish will next play host to No. 11 Florida State on Wednesday.