David Anderson (above) teamed with Daniel Stahl to clinch the doubles point.

Irish To Play Two In The Sunshine State

March 10, 2010

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team hits the road this weekend with matches versus BIG EAST rival South Florida and nationally ranked Florida State this weekend. On Friday, March 12 Notre Dame will play the Bulls at noon in Tampa, Fla. Two days later, the Irish will face the 19th-ranked Seminoles at noon on Sunday, March 14 in Tallahassee, Fla.

The USF match could be the first of multiple meetings between the two teams, as the Bulls will also take part in the 2010 Blue-Gray National Classic in Montgomery, Ala. and the 2010 BIG EAST tournament in Notre Dame, Ind. The Notre Dame-Florida State match will have live stats that can be accessed via Notre Dame’s schedule page. A complete recap of both contests will be posted on und.com following each match.

South Florida Series Breakdown
Notre Dame leads the brief all-time series with South Florida, 4-1. The Irish won the first meeting between the two teams, 5-2, at USF during the 1982 season. The teams then met at the 2006 and 2008 BIG EAST tournaments with the Irish also winning those matchups. In 2006, Notre Dame notched a 4-3 semifinal win and followed with a 4-3 championship match win in 2008. Last season, the Bulls and Irish split a pair of meetings. Notre Dame earned a 6-1 home win on March 28 but the Irish were then bested 4-1 at USF on April 18 in the BIG EAST semifinals.

In the 2009 BIG EAST semifinal match, Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) defeated Mahmoud Hamed at third singles 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, but the Bulls pulled away for their first ever win over the Irish. In 2009’s regular season meeting between the two teams, Notre Dame swept doubles play and also got singles wins from David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich), Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman), Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan), Watt and Brett Helgeson ’09.

Scouting The Bulls
The Bulls enter Friday’s match with a 3-6 overall record. Most recently, USF dropped a close match to Miami, 4-3, on Feb. 28. The Bulls have earned wins over FGCU (6-1), Texas-San Antonio (7-0) and Middle Tennessee State (5-2). Sophomore Wael Kilani is 114th in the most recent Campbell/ITA rankings, which were released on March 2.

Florida State Series Breakdown
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Florida State, 6-2, and has won five of the last six meetings between the two teams. All eight matches have come in the Bobby Bayliss era, beginning with a 5-1 win by the Irish in the first round of the H.E.B. Championship in 1992. After an 11-year break following that first meeting, the teams have played every season since 2003.

Last season, then 11th-ranked FSU earned its second win in the series, downing the 30th-ranked Irish by a 4-3 margin on Jan. 28 inside Notre Dame’s Eck Tennis Pavilion. In that match, FSU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead by taking the doubles point and subsequently winning at second and fifth singles. But the Irish made it close as Samuel Keeton (Kansas City, Mo./The Pembroke Hill School) and Watt won at sixth and fourth singles, respectively.

Scouting The Seminoles
Florida State, currently ranked 19th, carries a 9-1 record into the weekend, but will play at fifth-ranked Texas and at 51st-ranked Rice before playing host to the Irish. The Seminoles loss came at the hands of Wisconsin, 4-3, on Jan. 29. The Badgers are the only team to have played both FSU and Notre Dame this season (USF will become the second team to do so this weekend), as they fell at Notre Dame on Feb. 28 by a score of 4-3.

Jean Yves-Aubone has played the majority of the season at No. 1 singles for the Seminoles, where he has posted a 5-2 record. He is also 3-0 at No. 2 singles. Vahid Mirzadeh has also been a core member of the FSU lineup, posting a 3-0 record at No. 1 singles, a 4-1 mark at No. 2 and a 2-0 record at No. 3. Aubone is currently ranked 35th, Clint Bowles 55th and Mirzadeh 69th.

Last Time Out
The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team was edged at No. 12 Illinois, 5-2, on March 2 in Urbana, Ill. After Illinois and the Irish traded leads, the match came down to third sets at third and fourth singles, where the Fighting Illini eventually proved victorious. With the loss, the Irish moved to 6-6 on the season. Stephen Havens and Samuel Keeton earned singles wins for the Irish.

The most recent Campbell/ITA rankings were released on Tuesday, March 9 and the Irish moved to 44th … in the individual rankings, Casey Watt is 19th and Daniel Stahl is a career best 72nd … After this weekend’s action, Notre Dame will have faced a ranked opponent in 10 of its 13 matches (the Campbell/ITA rankings slot the top-75 teams) … Sam Keeton is 7-0 in 2010 dual season singles play … six of Notre Dame’s 12 matches have been decided by just one point … Notre Dame is 5-1 on the season when claiming the doubles point.