Feb. 23, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Irish men's tennis team fell to the Kentucky Wildcats on Monday evening by a 5-2 margin inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Kentucky improves to 8-2 on the season, while the Irish move to 6-6.
Kentucky came from behind to take the doubles point with wins at first and third doubles. Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Hill Christian School) and Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) gave the Irish an early 1-0 lead when they defeated Kentucky's Graerne Dyce and Eric Quigley at second doubles, 8-2.
Alberto Gonzalez and Alex Musiaklek answered quickly for the Wildcats at third doubles, tying doubles play at 1-1 with a win over Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College) and Matt Johnson (Portage, Mich./Portage Central HS), 8-3. It marked the Irish duo's 11th start at third doubles this season.
Knotted at one win apiece, the point came down to first doubles where the 13th-ranked team of Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) and Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan HS) faced Kentucky's Bruno Agostinelli and Brad Cox, who came into the match ranked 30th. As play wrapped up on court three, Helgeson and Davis knew they would have to rally from the 7-2 deficit they faced at the time to give the Irish a shot at the point. They went on to hold on Helgeson's serve, break on Agostinelli's, and hold on Davis' to cut the Wildcat lead to 7-5. But the comeback fell short as Cox held serve to earn the point for the Wildcats.
Kentucky's Alex Musialek gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead with a win at fifth singles over Fitzgerald, 6-0, 6-4. In singles play, Fitzgerald, who has played at the fourth, fifth and sixth positions, stands at 5-5 on the dual season.
In one of two singles matchups between ranked opponents, Kentucky's Eric Quigley, ranked 83rd, downed 122nd-ranked Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman), 6-3, 6-2 at second singles.
Watt got the Irish on the board with a straight sets triumph over Dyce at fourth singles. Watt trailed in the first, 3-4, but won the next three to secure the set. In the second set, he jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and held on for a 6-3 victory, making the overall match score 3-1 in favor of Kentucky. Watt now carries a 7-3 mark at fourth singles.
At first singles, two of the Nation's top-20 players squared off as 18th-ranked Helgeson faced eighth-ranked Agostinelli. Agostinelli took the first set, 6-3. Helgeson rallied back by taking the second set, 6-2. In the third set, Helgeson fell behind 5-1, before cutting Agostinelli's lead to a 5-3 margin. But Agostinelli held serve for a 6-3 win that clinched the match for the Wildcats.
David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) made his fourth singles start of the season at sixth singles. He dropped the first set to his opponent, Alberto Gonzalez, 6-1. Anderson countered to take the second set, also by a score of 6-1. The third set featured ties at 3-3, 5-5 and 6-6 before Gonzalez won 7-6 by virtue of a 10-8 tie-break win.
Havens and Cox finished the match off at second singles, as they needed a third set to decide their match as well. Havens took the closely contested first set, 7-6 (7-5). Cox answered with a 6-3 win in the second to force a third set. In the third set, Havens jumped out to a 4-1 lead and held on for a 6-2 victory. At second singles, the sophomore is now 5-6 on the year. Along with Watt and Stahl, Havens is one of only three Notre Dame players to start all 12 matches in the 2009 dual season.
Notre Dame returns to the courts on Friday, February 27 when it plays host to the 13th-ranked Aggies of Texas A&M. The match will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
#31 Kentucky 5, #25 Notre Dame 2 Eck Tennis Pavilion - Notre Dame, Ind.