Sophomore Brett Helgeson.

#16 Irish Shut Out USF In BIG EAST Semifinals

April 22, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. – The top-seeded and 16th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (17-7) posted a 4-0 victory over tournament host and fifth-seeded South Florida (4-14) Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Conference Championship at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts. The Irish – who are seeking their third straight league title and have now won 10 straight matches in the tournament – will take on second-seeded and 31st-ranked Louisville (17-7) on Sunday at Noon (ET) in the title match. The teams met in the regular-season finale at Notre Dame on April 13, with the Irish prevailing 5-2.

Notre Dame won at the bottom two spots to win the doubles point and then got three quick straight-set victories in singles. The Irish were in control of two of the abandoned matches, while the other appeared to be headed to a third set after USF took the opening frame.

Sophomore Andrew Roth (Houston, Texas/Tenney School) and freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) were done first in doubles, winning 8-5 at No. 3 against Juan Barragan and Raj Shah. They moved to 5-3 on the season together.

Clinching the doubles point was junior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) and sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), who won 8-5 against Federico Barton and Marc Gatticker at No. 2. Senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.), the 25th-ranked team in college tennis, held a 6-4 lead over Dillon Brozyna and Marc Jaeger at No. 1 when that match was abandoned.

In singles, Langenkamp wasted little time in registering a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 6 against Shah. He improved to 14-9 on the season, including 10-4 in dual action.

Helgeson was leading 6-1, 5-2 over Barragan at No. 3 when the Bull retired due to injury to put the Irish ahead 3-0. The ND rookie is 20-10 on the season and 13-9 in dual action.

Clinching the match for the second time this season was Keckley, who beat Brozyna 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4. The Irish junior improved to 20-5 overall this season, including 18-4 in duals.

King was just three games from a win at No. 5, leading Gatticker 6-4, 3-0, while Parbhu was up 6-2, 2-2 in his No. 2 match against Jaeger. At the top spot, Barton won a first-set tiebreaker, but junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) was up 3-0 in the second set when that contest was abandoned.

Notre Dame improved to 40-9 (.816) all-time against fellow conference foes, including 23-4 (.852) in the BIG EAST Championship. All nine defeats came against Miami (Fla.), which was a fellow BIG EAST member from 1996-2004.

The Irish have reached the title match of the BIG EAST tournament every year since becoming a league member in 1995-96 and have won five championships (1996, ’99, 2002, ’04, and ’05) and saw the ’03 final rained out with no winner declared. Their last defeat came in the 2001 title match. ND is now 18-0 in matches leading up to the final, with 15 of those coming as shutouts.

Notre Dame has now won seven consecutive matches against BIG EAST competition, dating back to the 2003-04 campaign. The Irish hold a 94-2 (.979) all-time record against the current members of the BIG EAST, though one of those defeats was a 4-1 affair against Louisville in the opening round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

[No. 1 seed] #16 Notre Dame 4, [No. 5 seed] South Florida 0SinglesNo. 1:  Federico Barton (USF) led #18 Stephen Bass (ND) 7-6 (7-2), 0-3, abandonedNo. 2:  #35 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) led Marc Jaeger (USF) 6-2, 2-2, abandonedNo. 3:  Brett Helgeson (ND) def. Juan Barragan (USF) 6-1, 5-2, ret.No. 4:  * Ryan Keckley (ND) def. Dillon Brozyna (USF) 6-3, 6-2No. 5:  Barry King (ND) led Marc Gatticker (USF) 6-4, 3-0, abandonedNo. 6:  Eric Langenkamp (ND) def. Raj Shah (USF) 6-1, 6-0Order of Finish: 6, 3, 4*DoublesNo. 1:  #25 Keckley/Langenkamp (ND) led Brozyna/Jaeger (USF) 6-4, abandonedNo. 2:  * King/Parbhu (ND) def. Barton/Gatticker (USF) 8-5No. 3:  Helgeson/Andrew Roth (ND) def. Barragan/Shah (USF) 8-5Order of Finish: 3, 2** - indicates clinching victory