March 13, 2008
In a match that saw five of six singles contests go three sets, it was no surprise that the final match on the court decided the winner.
Tyler Davis won a three-set marathon at No. 6 singles with the match tied at 3-3 to earn the win for the #30 Irish (10-4) over North Carolina State in the first round of the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic Thursday morning Montgomery, AL, The win pushed Notre Dame’s mark in 4-3 matches to a perfect 5-0 this year including 4-0 when the match is tied 3-3.
Davis played three back and forth sets with the Wolfpack’s David Chermak before emerging the victor. The Irish freshman won the first set 7-5, before dropping the second in a tie-breaker. Davis trailed in the final set 3-2 before rallying to win three of the next four games to take a 5-4 advantage. Chermak won the next game to tie the match at five before the Irish freshman won the final two games to take the match 7-5. Thursday marked just the fourth time Davis has been a part of Notre Dame’s singles lineup this season. The rookie is 3-1 in those matches. The win was also the first three-set victory in Davis’s career though he did post three previous wins in match tie-breakers.
The opening round match was a seesaw affair throughout as Notre Dame captured the doubled point after dropping the first match off the court. The Wolfpack tied the match at 1 by winning the first singles decision. The Irish seemed poised to capture the match as the next two singles matches went the way of Notre Dame, springing the Irish to a 3-1 lead. NC State would not go quietly however, as they won the next two singles contests to tie the match before Davis came through with the deciding point.
Eight of seventeen singles sets played were decided by two games or fewer including three decided in tie-breaks.
Notre Dame appeared to heading for a doubles loss when sixth-ranked Nick Cavaday and Jay Weinacker bested Sheeva Parbhu and Brett Helgeson 8-4. The loss dropped the Irish pair to 10-8 this season, with three of the losses coming against ranked doubles teams.
Andrew Roth and Santiago Montoya responded at No.2, posting a convincing 8-3 victory over James McGee and Christian Welte to knot the doubles play at one match apiece. The Irish veterans won for the third time in four matches as a team.
The deciding doubles match pitted two Irish freshmen, Davis and Stephen Havens, against Wolfpack senior David Rozek and freshmen Rob Lowe. The Irish rookies were cool under pressure and emerged with a critical 8-6 win. The duo kept their perfect dual record in tact and are now 3-0 as a team this spring.
Havens was not able to carry his doubles success to the singles court, however, as he fell to Welte in the first singles contest completed at No. 4. Havens fell behind early, dropping the first set 6-2, but he turned the tide winning the second by a familiar 6-2 score. Welte made quick work of Havens in the final set however, capturing the match with a 6-1 win in the third. The Irish rookie saw his record fall to 7-7 this spring. The rookie is the only player on Notre Dame to post a result in every dual match this season. (Others have played all the dual matches, but have seen some of their matches go unfinished.)
Veterans Parbhu and Helgeson vaulted the Irish to a 3-1 lead with victories in close contests. Parbhu won the first set in his No. 2 match against Weinacker by a single break, 6-4. The NC State junior responded with a 6-0 blanking in the second set before Parbhu returned the favor with a 6-1 rout in the final set. Parbhu earned his team-high tenth dual singles win against just three losses. His overall record stands at 20-8 this season. The junior Helgeson won a tight straight-set decision over McGee at No.1. He also won the first set 6-4 before battling in a back-and-forth second set and taking it in a tiebreaker. The victory improved Helgeson to 23-5 on the year, good for the best record on the team. The win over the 104th-ranked McGee was Helgeson’s seventh of the year over a ranked opponent against just three losses.
With Notre Dame on the verge of victory it appeared the match would end soon at either the No. 3 or No. 5 positions. Daniel Stahl had a set in hand against Derek Stephens at No. 5 before falling in three sets. The score in each set was 6-2. Stahl’s loss was his fourth in twelve dual matches this season and dropped his record to 19-7 on the year. Stahl still has the most wins among Irish freshmen and third most on the team.
At No. 3 Roth fought from a set down to win the second set in a tiebreak against Cavaday, but could not sustain the momentum as he fell in the final set and dropped a 7-5, 6-7, 6-0 decision. Roth fell to 7-11 on the year, but was picked up by his teammate Davis who sealed the Irish win.
Notre Dame advances to face eighth-ranked Tulsa Friday at 11:00 a.m. CT. The Golden Hurricane advanced by virtue of a 4-0 win over William & Mary. Tulsa and Notre Dame have met four times in men’s tennis with the Irish holding a 3-1 series lead. The most recent meeting came in the semifinals of last year’s Blue-Gray tournament with the Irish emerging with a 4-1 victory.