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Men’s Tennis: ND ends losing skid behind Watt’s efforts

Meaghan Veselik | Monday, March 1, 2010

Notre Dame ended its three-match losing streak in style this weekend.

The No. 41 Irish defeated Michigan State 6-1 Saturday and No. 31 Wisconsin 4-3 and Toledo 6-1 Sunday.

“It was a great weekend for Notre Dame tennis at the Eck Pavilion,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “Sunday proved to be our best match of the season as we outgutted a talented Wisconsin team that had earlier beaten No.14 Florida State in Tallahassee. It was sweet revenge for our guys who lost twice to Wisconsin by identical 4-3 score in matches that could not have been closer.”

Notre Dame swept the doubles and sophomore Casey Watt’s win at No. 1 singles clinched the win over the Spartans. It was Notre Dame’s 21st consecutive win over Michigan State.

The Irish won the doubles point to jump ahead with a 1-0 lead. At No. 3, junior David Anderson and freshman Spencer Talmadge defeated the 45th-ranked Spartan duo of Denis Bogatov and Clark Richardson 8-2. Watt and junior Stephen Havens battled their way through a tough match to win 8-7 (7-2) over Austin Brooks and John Stratton.

Sophomore Samuel Keeton broke ahead for Notre Dame when he defeated the Spartans Will Davis 6-0, 6-4 in straight sets at No. 6 singles. The only Irish loss of the day came in the form of freshman Blas Moros’ fall to Stratton 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 loss at No. 5 singles.

Against Wisconsin, the Badgers commenced the day by securing the crucial doubles point away from the Irish to begin a very tough match.

Watt and Havens won 8-5 at No. 1 doubles over the Wisconsin duo of Moritz Baumann and Patrick Pohlmann but were followed by Davis and Fitzgerald falling 8-4 to Marek Michalicka and Luke Rassow-Kantor at No. 2. Anderson and Talmadge closed out the doubles play with an 8-3 loss to Ricardo Martin and Michael Dierberger.

The Irish were true to their name as the fought back with wins in Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5 singles. Watt defeated Baumann again 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a back-and-forth match at the No. 1 position. Bayliss said Watts’ win was the highlight of the day for Notre Dame.

“Casey changed his tactics and began to counterpunch more to turn things around,” Bayliss said.

Stahl, Anderson and Keeton all also contributed to Notre Dame’s success.

“Anderson was aggressive from the baseline and Keeton was able to pass with precision,” Bayliss said.

The Irish again swept the doubles division over the Rockets as they mixed up the pairs. Fitzgerald and Davis won 8-6 over Nutthavit Likitkumchorn and Aleksandar Elezovic at No.1. At No. 2, Anderson and Talmadge won 9-7 over Bryant Dudzik and Terence Weigan while Toledo’s Leonardo Henriques and Leo Sarria lost 8-3 to freshman Michael Moore and junior Matt Johnson.

Notre Dame won the match with wins everywhere except at No. 2, where Anderson lost to Elezovic, 4-6, 7-6, 0-1. Helping to secure the win were Watt, Keeton, Davis, Fitzgerald and Moros to move Notre Dame to 6-5.

The Irish will next travel to Champaign, Ill., to take on the Illini on March 2 for a dual match at 5 p.m. CST.