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Men’s Tennis: Squad shuts out Ball State after Louisville loss

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Momentum going into the postseason is important in any sport, but it can be essential for a young team like the Irish.

And No. 20 Notre Dame (12-10) took that momentum by finishing off the regular season in dominating fashion with a 7-0 win over in-state rival Ball State Monday. That victory was especially crucial after a 4-3 loss to No. 24 Louisville Saturday, as the weekend was a microchosm of an up-and-down season defined by youth and a daunting schedule.

“Coming into the season we knew we were going to have some highs as well as some lows, but as long as we kept improving we thought that there was a good chance to peak at the right time,” senior Brett Helgeson said.

On Saturday, Louisville captured an early lead as their first doubles team of Simon Childs and Viktor Maksimcuk barely upset Helgeson and Tyler Davis 9-8 (7-5). Maksimcuk followed that up with a win in second singles over Stephen Havens, bringing the score to 2-0.

Sophomore David Anderson and freshman Casey Watt tied it up with straight-set wins at fifth and third singles, respectively.

After Notre Dame dropped fourth singles but won at sixth singles, the match came down to the duel between the two highest-ranked singles players in the Big East: No. 24 Helgeson and No. 41 Austen Childs. Youth overcame experience in that battle, as the sophomore Childs took down Helgeson in the only three-set match of the day.

The Irish brought it all together for the match on Monday, as they swept both doubles and singles against Ball State. Freshman Samuel Keeton, in his first start since March 1 against Wisconsin, put together a good showing with a straight-set win at sixth singles.

Notre Dame’s next stop is in Tampa, Fla., where the Irish will compete in the Big East championships.

“The team has really put in the hours on and off the court and I believe we are prepared to defend our title at the Big East tournament,” he said.

Louisville’s win on Saturday clinched the top seed, leaving Notre Dame to take the No. 2 spot. The Irish will face No. 7 Georgetown on Friday at 9 a.m.