March 15, 2008
The luck of the Irish in 4-3 matches ran out on Notre Dame Saturday at the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic as the 30th-ranked men’s tennis team dropped their first 4-3 decision of the year to Boise State. Notre Dame had been 5-0 entering the match in contests decided by a 4-3 score, including 4-0 when the match is tied at three.
After Notre Dame (10-5) won the doubles point for the second time in as many matches in at the Blue-Gray (no doubles were played Friday against Tulsa), the Broncos responded by winning the first three singles matches off the court. After the Irish rallied to knot the match, the winner was decided at the No. 5 singles position where Daniel Stahl fell to Paul Koenke in a third set tie-breaker.
The tide began to turn the way of the Broncos when Clancy Shields, ranked 55th in the nation, downed 81st ranked Sheeva Parbhu in straight sets at No. 2. Parbhu was bageled in the first set 6-0 before coming to life in the second. He eventually fell in the final set that was decided by one break of serve, 6-4. The loss was just the fourth of the dual season for Parbhu, who fell to 10-4 this spring. The Irish captain still has the most singles dual wins on the team.
Eric Roberson gave the Broncos their first lead of the match with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Tyler Davis at No. 6. The match was the first for the Irish rookie at the Blue-Gray tournament that did not go three sets. The freshman stands at 12-6 on the season and 3-3 in dual play.
Steve Robertson made it 3-1 with a victory at No.4 over Irish freshman Stephen Havens. The Notre Dame rookie appeared to be in control of the match after dominating the first set 6-2. Robertson responded by winning 12 of the matches final 17 games to earn the three set win 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Havens’s loss was the fourth in a row for the freshman and dropped his record to 7-10 this spring.
Brett Helgeson began a Notre Dame comeback with a three-set win at No. 1 over Luke Shields. The Notre Dame junior took advantage of a break in the first set to earn the 6-4 victory before dropping the second set 6-3 to the Bronco senior. Helgeson found little trouble in the final set, however, winning 6-2. The Irish veteran added to an already impressive singles resume by earning his ninth victory over a ranked player this season. He improved his overall singles mark to 24-6 and has four more wins than any other player on the team.
Senior Andrew Roth played a grueling three-setter at No. 4 and was able to knot the match at 3-3 with a 7-5 win in the third set over Brent Werbeck. The match was close throughout as Roth won the first set 6-4 before falling in a tiebreaker in the second. The two battled to a 5-5 tie and played out the final two games as Stahl played the tiebreaker in his match. Roth’s hold and break earned him the win, his first in the tournament. He is now 8-12 in singles play this year.
Stahl nearly capped the Irish comeback when he battled from a set down to Koenke to force a third. The Notre Dame freshman dropped the first set 6-3, but came back to win the second 7-5. The third set was a back-and-forth affair, with neither player gaining an advantage. Stahl could not pull out the come-from-behind win and fell in a tie-breaker. He is now 2-2 on the year in three-set matches.
Doubles went the way of the Irish for the eighth time this season. The No. 1 and No. 3 matches were one-sided while the No. 2 match was hotly contested. Helgeson and Parbhu fell to the ranked team of Shields and Shields by an 8-3 score. The loss was the third in a row for the Irish #1 pairing, all to ranked teams.
The veterans were picked up by the freshman team at No.3. Havens and Davis turned the table on the Broncos by earning an 8-3 victory of their own over Robertson and Piotr Dilaj. The freshmen are undefeated since being paired together last month, as they boast a perfect 4-0 record.
Santiago Montoya and Roth won the clinching match, a 9-7 decision over Koenke and Roberson. A hold and a break for the Irish in the final two games was enough to earn the victory and the match’s first point. The win was the third in four matches for the duo this spring.
Notre Dame will have some well-deserved time off as they will not play a match until a March 25th contest at Kentucky. First serve in Lexington is scheduled for 3:00 CT.