Dec. 31, 2011
FLUSHING, N.Y. / DUBLIN, Ireland - While most students spent their final week of 2011 relaxing at home with family and friends, a pair of Notre Dame men's tennis student-athletes used their final week of the year to win national championships. Senior Casey Watt won a pair of doubles crowns at the USTA National Men's Open, Women's Open and Mixed Open Indoor National Championships, while fellow senior Niall Fitzgerald took home the singles title at the David Lloyd National Indoor Championships in his native Ireland.
Watt, a three-time all-BIG EAST selection, won both the doubles and mixed doubles titles and also advanced to the round of 32 in singles action on his way to a 15-1 record on the week.
The USTA event, which took place at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., saw Watt pair with 2010 Duquesne graduate and current volunteer head coach Jeremy McClelland for doubles and fellow Pennsylvania native Elyse Steiner for mixed doubles.
In doubles action, Watt and McClelland cruised through the first two rounds, winning 6-1, 6-1 and 6-1, 6-2. The duo had their first tough match in the round of 16, as they won in three sets over Appel and Paul, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. They took the round of eight match, 6-3, 6-4, over the second seeded team of Hansen and Kessler before advancing to the finals with a hard-fought three-set win over the third-seeded team of Bratt and Mattelson, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3). McClelland and Watt took the title with a 7-6 (1), 6-2 win over the eighth-seeded pair of Silverman and Vega.
Steiner and Watt defeated three seeded teams on their way to the mixed doubles championship. Winning all six matches in straight sets, the pair defeated the family duo of Scandalis and Scandalis, 6-3, 6-3 in the championship match.
In singles, Watt cruised through to the round of 32, winning his first three matches in straight sets. In the round of 32, Watt ran into Salifu Mohammed, who took down the Gibsonia, Pa., native, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Mohammed went on to make it to the round of eight, where he lost to the eventual national champion.
Across the pond, Fitzgerald went 5-0 in singles action to hoist the national championship. Given the number two seed, Fitzgerald won his first three matches in straight sets, before meeting up with the number three seed in the semifinals. Facing John McGahon, Fitzgerald won the first and third sets to advance to the finals, 7-6, 1-6, 10-8. In the finals, the Wicklow native defeated the No. 1 seed Lazare Kukhalashvili, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
Fitzgerald also played in the doubles championship, going 1-1 with partner Tommie Murphy.
In all, Watt and Fitzgerald went a combined 21-2 at the two tournaments.
The duo, along with the rest of the Irish, open the 2012 campaign in just two short weeks when they host Illinois State and Toledo on Jan. 15 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
USTA Mixed Doubles
David Lloyd Singles
David Lloyd Doubles