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Men’s Tennis: Bucks end team’s win streak at five

Chris Michalski | Monday, February 23, 2009

No. 25 Notre Dame snapped its five-match winning streak in a big way on Saturday.

The Irish (6-5) fell to No. 3 Ohio State 7-0 in Columbus.

The Irish were forced to take on the high-powered Buckeyes without the help of their usual first singles player, senior Brett Helgeson. Helgeson suffered an injury against Northwestern on Thursday and stayed in South Bend for treatment. He is currently day-to-day, but coach Bobby Bayliss said he hopes to have him available for Monday’s match against Kentucky.

With Helgeson, the team’s only upperclassman, out, the Irish played with an especially young lineup. Four sophomores and two freshmen filled the six singles spots. Sophomore Stephen Havens moved up to first singles, and lost 6-4, 6-0 to Ohio State’s No. 4 Bryan Koniecko.

Sophomore Daniel Stahl was the only Irish player to force a third set, losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to No. 22 Steven Moneke.

Ohio State also swept doubles, although second and third doubles were kept close, both ending 8-6.

The young team will continue to gain valuable experience against top-notch competition, as its upcoming schedule will feature No. 31 Kentucky, No. 13 Texas A&M and No. 19 Michigan.

Bayliss said he is aware of the unyielding stretch of matches, but that he feels that it is for the best.

“I knew this schedule would be a challenge, but I hoped that our guys would be forced to meet this level,” Bayliss said. “Our guys came to Notre Dame so that they could play against teams like these.”

This overwhelming loss could potentially knock the Irish out of the top-25, but once again Bayliss is not concerned.

“If we get caught up in worrying about our ranking we will not be focused on the more important goals, like being ready to compete when it matters,” he said.

The Irish will return home today to take on the Kentucky Wildcats at 4 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Facility.