April 26, 2008
The 31st-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team earned their best win of the season Saturday afternoon, a thrilling 4-3, weather delayed victory over #13 Florida State. For the second match in a row, the fate of the Irish sat in the hands of freshman Daniel Stahl, and just as in last Sunday’s win over South Florida that clinched the Big East title, Stahl came through, earning the 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Drew Bailey at No. 6 singles to give Notre Dame the win. Florida State became the highest-ranked opponent the Irish have defeated this season, as the win extended Notre Dame’s winning streak to five matches.
The Irish held a 3-1 lead before the Seminoles rallied to knot the match as focus turned to the No. 6 position. Stahl appeared to be on his way to an easy win with a 6-2 win in the first set before Bailey responded by breaking open a close second set on his way to a 6-3 second set win. The Irish rookie regained control in the decisive set, however, winning the final set 6-1 to earn his 26th win of the year against just eight losses. The victory extended Stahl’s team best winning streak to seven matches and ran his record in three set matches to 6-2 on the season. He currently has the third most wins on the team and the most of any Irish rookie.
The Big East champions used the momentum they established last weekend in Tampa and sprung out to a 1-0 lead over the home-standing Seminoles. Notre Dame won two of three closely contested doubles matches to earn point in an upset.
Santiago Montoya and Andrew Roth got the Irish started with a win at No. 2. The Notre Dame duo leaped out to a 3-1 advantage over Drew Bailey and Brad Mixson and eventually held a 5-3 lead before the home team responded. Bailey and Mixson knotted the match at seven all before Montoya and Roth earned a hold and a break to capture the 9-7 victory. Roth and Montoya won for the third match in a row and improved to 8-4 this season.
Veterans Sheeva Parbhu and Brett Helgeson clinched the initial point with a come-from-behind win at the No. 1 position. The Irish pair trailed Sam Chang and Maciek Sykut 4-2 before capturing four of the next five games to vault to a 6-5 lead. Parbhu and Helgeson held on for the 8-6 win. They are now 16-12 and have won four matches in a row. Florida State became the highest ranked team to lose the doubles point for Notre Dame, and the Irish have now won five doubles points in a row. They are 13-1 this season when capturing the doubles point
Stephen Havens and Tyler Davis found themselves in a close match with Clint Bowles and Chris Cloer, and trailing 4-3. After splitting the next four games, the Irish trailed 6-5 before Havens and Davis surged to an 8-7 lead. The Seminole pair knotted the match at eight to force a tie-breaker where they emerged with a 7-5 win. Notre Dame’s freshman pair saw their four match winning streak snapped as they fell to 14-7. Havens and Davis still have the second most wins on the team behind Helgeson and Parbhu.
The Seminoles tied the score at one apiece when Cloer made short work of Irish freshman David Anderson with a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 5. Cloer vaulted to a quick 5-0 lead and never looked back in the easy win. Anderson’s struggles continued as the rookie fell for the fourth match in a row and fell to 17-15 on the season.
The Irish responded however, with huge wins from Havens and Helgeson to put the Irish up 3-1. Havens won a close first set before the rain delay, taking the final two games of the first set and taking an early lead in the second over Mixson at No. 4. The Irish rookie took the 7-5, 6-2 win to give Notre Dame the lead once again. Havens rebounded from a disappointing Big East tournament to improve his record to 20-20 and snap a two match losing streak.
Helgeson continued his hot streak with a straight set win over the freshman Bowles at No. 1. With top singles player Jean-Yves Aubone out of the lineup, Bowles moved into the top slot, and was soundly defeated in the first set by the more experienced Helgeson, 6-1. The Notre Dame junior vaulted to a 4-1 lead in the second set but the Seminole rookie ran off three straight games to knot the match at four. The second set would eventually be decided in a tiebreaker where Helgeson prevailed 7-5. The Notre Dame junior became the first player on the team to earn 30 singles wins and won for the 11th time this season against a nationally ranked player. Helgeson stands at 30-10 on the year including 15-9 in dual play.
The Seminoles responded with close wins at No. 2 and No. 3. Sykut cut the Irish win to one with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over Andrew Roth. Play was halted for a rain delay as the two battled in the first set tiebreaker with Sykut ahead 6-4. Roth battled to tie the final game at six points apiece before Sykut claimed the final two points to win 8-6. The Notre Dame senior could not establish any momentum in the second set as he fell 6-2. Roth is now 10-19 this season.
Parbhu and Chang locked horns in a battle of nationally-ranked players at No. 2. 90th-ranked Chang won a close first set 6-4 in a set that was decided by just one break. The second set was similarly close, as it was decided in a tiebreak that went the way of the home team 7-3. The Florida State win tied the match at three and set the stage for Stahl’s dramatics. Parbhu saw his four match win streak halted as his record fell to 27-12.
The win concluded the regular season for Notre Dame as the Irish posted a 16-10 record. The Big East conference championship clinched an automatic bid for Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament. They will be making their 17th tournament appearance in 18 years and will await the announcement of the pairings Tuesday. They will open tournament play over the weekend of May 9 at one of 16 yet to be determined campus sites.