Jan. 28, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s tennis team dropped a 4-3 decision to 11th-ranked Florida State at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. 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 Sam Keeton (Kansas City, Mo./The Pembroke Hill School) and Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) won at sixth and fourth singles, respectively. But in the end, the Seminoles proved too much as they came away with a 4-3 victory.
As doubles play began with the Irish jumping out to 1-0 leads on all three courts only to see the Seminoles level all three matches at 1-1, it became clear the two teams were in for a series of close matches across the board.
Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College) and Matt Johnson (Portage, Mich./Portage Central HS) played at third doubles, where they faced Chris Cloer and Vahid Mirzadeh. Fitzgerald and Johnson fell behind, 4-1, before winning five of the next six sets for a 6-5 lead. They then fell behind, 7-6, but broke serve to tie the match at 7-7. But Mirzadeh and Cloer won the next two sets for the 9-7 win.
At second doubles, Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Hill Christian School) and Watt faced 47th-ranked Andrew Bailey and Maciek Sykut of FSU in what proved to be the deciding doubles match for the Seminoles. The match was tied at 5-5 before the Irish won two-straight to take a 7-6. But FSU held serve and tied the match at 7-7. The Irish then went up 8-7 on Havens’ serve, only to see the Seminoles level again at 8-8. FSU proved victorious in the tie-break, 7-1.
At first doubles, Notre Dame’s 37th-ranked duo of Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) and Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan HS) served it up against the Seminoles’ 23rd-ranked pairing of Jean Yves Aubone and Clint Bowles. It was yet another close match as the teams moved into a 4-4 tie with FSU winning the eighth game after five deuces. The teams were tied again at 6-6, 7-7 and 8-8. In the tie-break, Helgeson and Davis won 8-6.
In singles play, Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman), ranked 112th, played 72nd-ranked Sykut at third singles. Sykut took the first set 6-1 and the second set 6-3 to give the Seminoles a 2-0 overall lead.
FSU took a 3-0 lead when, at fifth singles, Fitzgerald fell to Cloer in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.
Keeton got the Irish on the board with a win over FSU’s Andrew Bailey at sixth-singles. He took a 4-1 lead in the first set and held on to take the set, 7-5. In the second set, Keeton cruised to the 6-2 win to move the score to 3-1 in favor of FSU. The freshman now owns a 3-0 record in dual season singles play.
Watt, lining up at fourth singles for the fourth consecutive match, made the overall score 3-2 with a 6-4, 6-2 win over FSU’s Mirzadeh, closing out the match with a clever drop shot at the net. Watt’s finish was also impressive in that he held serve, broke serve and then held again to win the last three games of the second set.
At second singles, Havens was matched up against FSU’s Bowles, ranked 29th in the country, in what proved to be the deciding match. After trailing 4-1 in the first set, Havens battled back tie the score at 5-5 but he wound up losing the lengthy first set 7-6 (7-5). Fighting to keep Notre Dame’s hopes alive, Havens again battled in the second set. After being down 5-3, and facing match point (for his and the overall match), he broke Bowles after the first deuce to cut his deficit to one game, 5-4. But Bowles proved too much as he then broke serve to take the match 6-4, clinching the Seminole victory.
At first singles 20th-ranked Helgeson matched up against 30th-ranked Yves Aubone. After being tied at 4-4, Helgeson took the first set, 6-4. But Yves Aubone took the second set, 6-4, to force the third set. In the third set, Helgeson got out to a 3-0 lead before Aubone got on the board, making it 3-1. Helgeson responded by winning two of the next three to make the score 5-2. Then, with the match on the line, Helgeson broke serve at love for a 6-2 win. The Irish return to the courts on Saturday, January 31 at the ITA National Team Indoors, in Tulsa, Okla. The tournament is a 16-team dual-match tournament with consolation play. The time and opponents for Notre Dame’s matches will be announced at a later date. The Irish had their best showing at the event in 1992, when they finished tied for third. In 2008, Bob Bayliss’ squad finished in an eleventh-place tie.
#11 Florida State 4, #30 Notre Dame 3
Singles competition1. #20 Brett Helgeson (UND) def. #30 Jean-Yves Aubone (FSU) 6-4, 4-6, 6-22. #29 Clint Bowles (FSU) def. Stephen Havens (UND) 7-6 (7-5), 6-43. #79 Maciek Sykut (FSU) def. #112 Daniel Stahl (UND) 6-1, 6-34. Casey Watt (UND) def. Vahid Mirzadeh (FSU) 6-4, 6-25. Chris Cloer (FSU) def. Niall Fitzgerald (UND) 6-2, 6-36. Samuel Keeton (UND) def. Andrew Bailey (FSU) 7-5, 6-2
Doubles competition1. #37 Brett Helgeson/Tyler Davis (UND) def. #23 Jean-Yves Aubone/Clint Bowles (FSU) 9-8 (8-6)2. #47 Maciek Sykut/Andrew Bailey (FSU) def. Stephen Havens/Casey Watt (UND) 9-8 (7-1)3. Chris Cloer/Vahid Mirzadeh (FSU) def. Niall Fitzgerald/Matt Johnson (UND) 9-7
Match Notes:Florida State 3-2; National ranking #11Notre Dame 1-3; National ranking #30Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (3,5,4,2,1)
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