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Men’s Tennis: Team wins fourth straight victory over Spartans

Katelyn Grabarek | Monday, February 16, 2009

The No. 25 Irish were able to earn their fourth consecutive victory and improve their overall record to 5-4 Sunday, defeating Michigan State by a score of 6-1.

The No. 37 team of senior Brett Helgeson and sophomore Tyler Davis easily earned a victory over Austin Brooks and John Stratton by a score of 8-2.

“Tyler and Brett have become a pretty good tandem because of their different styles of play,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Brett has the stronger returns and bigger serve, but Tyler is a more instinctive volleyer and covers the net like a blanket. Each has the ability to compensate for the other’s weaknesses and the chemistry between them is growing with each match.”

At No. 2 doubles sophomore Stephen Havens and freshman Casey Watt fell to John Allare and Jason Norville 8-4.

“Casey’s strengths are his speed, ability to make shots and a very real loathing of losing,” Bayliss said. “He is learning to do some things that were previously uncomfortable for him, like closing out points at the net and taking more balls on the rise. He now understands that many of the things that he got away with in junior tennis are no longer viable at this level and has made some good adjustments in his game style. We are just beginning to get glimpses of what he might become.”

Freshman Niall Fitzgerald and sophomore Matt Johnson were able to salvage the doubles point, winning 8-4.

No. 20 Helgeson was able to put Allare away at No. 1 singles 6-2, 6-2.

Watt defeated Scott Rasmussen in straight set with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. Watt has earned four consecutive singles wins to improve his record to 6-3.

No. 108 Dan Stahl was able to clinch the match for the Irish with a victory over Brooks 6-2, 6-3.

“Dan has surprised everyone with his ability to move from No. 6 a year ago to No. 3 now,” Bayliss said. “The biggest reasons for this are his superb work ethic and competitiveness. He has some great strengths … the ability to take time away from an opponent and rock solid ground strokes. He has taken what used to be weaknesses and made them into strengths, like his serve and net game. He can counter much better now than last year and has radically improved his slice backhand. The player from Duke that he defeated Sunday, Dylan Arnold, was playing in the US Open Juniors at the same time Dan was trying to do well sectionally. That is an indication of just how far he has come.”

Fitzgerald defeated Norville at No. 6 singles by a score of 6-3, 6-4.

Freshman Sam Keeton lost his first match of the season at No. 5 singles, falling 7-5, 6-3 to Sam Hulewicz.

Havens was able to earn a victory at No. 2 singles over Forber to round out the day.

The Irish will next take on Northwestern Thursday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. First serve is set for 4 p.m.