April 6, 2008
Notre Dame’s attempt to put together back-to-back wins for the first time in almost two months was thwarted Sunday morning by a determined William & Mary team, as the #63 Tribe upset the #34 Irish by a 4-3 count. Dominic Pagon defeated Notre Dame senior Andrew Roth with the match tied at three points apiece to secure the victory for the visitors. Notre Dame fell for just the second time this season when the match is tied at three.
William & Mary captured the doubles point to take the early lead, and the teams split the first four singles decisions to give the Tribe a 3-2 advantage. When Daniel Stahl clinched a win over Kavi Sud at No. 6, all eyes turned to the No. 3 match between Pagon and Roth.
In the battle of southpaws, Roth trailed Pagon 5-2 in the first set before running off four straight games, breaking the Tribe junior twice. Unfortunately for the Irish, Roth could not hold when he served for the set at 6-5, and ultimately fell in a tiebreaker. The second set was also tightly contested with Roth battling from down 3-1 to take a 4-3 lead. Pagon responded with a decisive break at 4-4 and held in the match’s final game to earn the upset victory. The loss dropped Roth to 9-15 this year. Notre Dame became the highest ranked team to fall to William & Mary this season.
With the Irish down a point, senior captain Sheeva Parbhu got Notre Dame on the board with a decisive victory at the No. 2 position. Parbhu bounced back from a loss in doubles to win the first five games of his match against Marwan Ramadan. He would have little trouble closing out the first set, and he quickly gained a 4-1 lead in the second set on his way to a 6-1, 6-1 win. The senior improved his team-best dual record to 13-5 and is now 23-10 overall this season.
Keziel Juneau put the Tribe back on top with a 6-4, 6-3, straight-set win over Stephen Havens at No. 4. Havens appeared to be in control of the first set after vaulting to a 3-0 lead. Juneau battled back to win the next five games and then held serve at 5-4 to win the first set. An early break in the second set gave Juneau the advantage again as he led 4-3. After losing a close game on Juneau’s serve, the Irish freshman could not hold to stay in the match and lost for the sixth time in eight matches. Havens is now 18-16 for the year.
David Anderson knotted the match again two with a solid win over Sebastian Vidal at No. 5. The Irish freshman cruised to a first set win, but found himself knotted at three in the second set after squandering an early lead. A huge passing shot on break point gave Anderson a 4-3 lead, and two subsequent holds were enough to earn the 6-2, 6-4 win. The Notre Dame rookie won his second singles match of the weekend, and pushed his record to 17-11 on the year.
Moments later, Alex Cojanu held off a furious second set rally from Brett Helgeson to put the Tribe on the brink of victory. Helgeson broke Cojanu in the first game of the match, but the Irish junior would go on to drop the match’s next ten games. Down 4-0, Helgeson ran off three games in a row to close to within a game. He could not, however, earn the last break to tie the match and fell 6-1, 6-4. Helgeson is now 25-9 this season and 10-8 in dual play.
Stahl’s win knotted the match, and set the stage for the drama at No. 3. The Notre Dame freshman upended Sud 7-6 (7-1), 6-3. Stahl dug himself a 5-2 hole in the first set before running off three straight to tie the set at five games apiece. A clutch hold forced a tiebreaker which Stahl dominated. The second set featured holds in each of the first seven games before Stahl broke through with a break to earn the 5-3 advantage. An easy service game secured the win, his 11th of the spring against just five losses.
The Irish got off to a slow start in doubles, losing the each of the first six games decided across the courts in paired play. Cojanu and Pagon jumped all over Helgeson and Parbhu in the No. 1 match, earning a break in the first game of the match and sprinting to a 4-0 lead. Notre Dame’s top team would get to within 5-2, but the Tribe proved to be too much, as the visitors won the match’s final three games on their way to an 8-2 win. The loss matched the largest margin of defeat for Parbhu and Helgeson this season (the pair also lost to Ryan Rowe and Billy Heiser of Illinois by an 8-2 score). The Irish duo fell to 12-11 on this season including a 10-9 mark in dual play.
Though the Tribe held the early edge in doubles, the match’s initial point was still up for grabs, with the two matches left on the court each tied at 3-3. The momentum started to swing the way of the Irish when the No. 2 team of Santiago Montoya and Roth earned a break at 4-4 to take their first lead of the match. Roth followed that game with a solid hold of serve to take a two- game lead. The Notre Dame pair broke for the second time in a row to take a 7-4 lead. Montoya held to secure the Irish win and knot the doubles competition. The five game run helped the Notre Dame pair improve to 5-3 on the season.
Notre Dame could not complete the doubles comeback, however, as William & Mary’s Sud and Vidal earned a key break over Havens and Tyler Davis at 5-4 in the decisive match. The Irish kept it close at 7-5 and were 30-30 in the match’s final game before the Tribe earned the final two points to secure the win. Davis and Havens fell for just the second time in seven dual doubles matches this season. The Irish rookies fell to 10-5 overall this year.
The Irish will look to rebound next weekend with two matches against ranked teams. Notre Dame will challenge #14 Michigan Saturday in Ann Arbor before hosting conference rival Louisville Sunday. First serve at Michigan is scheduled for 2:30, and Sunday’s home finale is slated to begin at 1:00 at the Courtney Tennis Center.