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Men’s Tennis: Irish move on in Classic

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 20, 2009

The No. 25 Irish were able to advance Thursday at the Blue Gray Classic, defeating Mississippi State by a score of 4-2 in Montgomery, Ala. Notre Dame will now face Boise State today at 2:30 p.m.

“The field is very diverse geographically,” head coach Bobby Bayliss said. “We opened with Mississippi State who beat No. 20 Auburn last week. There are no easy matches and we will be challenged every match we play.”

The No. 21 ranked doubles team of senior Brett Helgeson and sophomore Tyler Davis were able to defeat junior Christopher Doerr and sophomore Tanner Stump by a score of 8-5 to earn the Irish’s only doubles win against the Bulldogs to start the match Thursday. Sophomore Stephen Havens and freshman Casey Watt lost a hard-fought battle against freshmen Louis Cant and Artem Illyushin by a score of 9-8.

Watt is coming off of a strong showing at the Pacific Coast Doubles tournament with senior Santiago Montoya.

“Because of a couple of minor injuries we were not able to play all of our regular combinations, but Santiago Montoya and Casey Watt reached the consolation finals and looked pretty good together,” Bayliss said. “They brought interesting chemistry to the table – Santi’s touch and feel at the net coupled with Casey’s ability to dominate on serve returns and from the back of the court.”

Sophomore Matt Johnson and freshman Niall Fitzgerald fell to sophomore Antonio Lastre and senior Ryan Farlow at No. 3 doubles.

However, the Irish were able to turn things around and earn the victory with their singles lineup.

No. 21 Helgeson was able to defeat Farlow 6-4, 6-0 at No. 1 singles for the Irish’s first singles point of the match.

Watt was able to earn his second victory of the day defeating Lastre in three sets at third singles, and sophomore Dan Stahl was able to defeat Cant in straight sets by a score of 7-5, 6-3.

Sophomore David Anderson fell to Doerr 7-5, 6-3 at No. 5 singles, while Fitzgerald was able to come through with a victory at the sixth singles position by a score 7-6, 6-1 over Stump.

After Montoya and Watt’s success over spring break the Irish are still trying to tighten things up in the doubles lineup.

“We will be trying, as the season moves forward, to shore up a few things in our doubles,” Bayliss said. “As play moves outdoors, things like first serve percentage, depth on the first volley and holding serve consistently become more important. Easy points are harder to get and consistency becomes imperative. You have to work harder to win points and be able to use the elements to assist you tactically and strategically. We are in very good shape and have won the majority of our long matches, but we need to keep pushing to maintain that edge.”

The Irish will face Boise State today with first serve at 2:30 p.m.