March 16, 2005
#16 Notre Dame (13-4) vs. #3 Illinois (10-1)
Thursday, March 17 â€¢ Eck Tennis Pavilion
– Scoring Updates: www.und.com
The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (13-4), which has risen to 16th in the latest set of national rankings, is set for a big home contest with #3 Illinois (10-1) Thursday at 4 p.m. (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. It will be a matchup of the two highest-ranked teams in the Midwest Region, as well as the first tussle between top-20 teams in the Eck Tennis Pavilion since 1996.
LIVE SCORING UPDATES AVAILABLE VIA UND.COM: Once again, fans and media unable to attend the match on Thursday will be able to follow the action via scoring updates on Notre Dame’s official athletic website, www.und.com. They are updated approximately every 15 minutes and are available either by clicking the link on the front page of und.com or on the men’s tennis schedule.
IRISH-ILLINI SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and Illinois will meet for the 17th consecutive season and 37th time overall, with the Irish holding a 20-16 advantage in the all-time series. The Fighting Illini have had the upper hand of late, winning nine of the last 10 meetings (and each of the last four), dating back to 1998. The lone Notre Dame triumph in that stretch was a 4-3 victory by the sixth-ranked Irish over #5 Illinois on March 7, 2002. Incidentally, that also stands as the last home loss for the Fighting Illini, who have won 37 straight in the Atkins Tennis Center since then. Notre Dame has won 11 of 20 matches under current head coach Bob Bayliss and is 14-8 at home against Illinois. The schools first played in 1933, with the Illini prevailing 7-0. The last home victory for the Irish came in 1997, when 29th-ranked Notre Dame prevailed 5-2 against #33 Illinois. Last season, Illinois won 7-0 at home on Feb. 26, as the Irish were unable to win a set in either singles or doubles.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Bob Bayliss is in his 18th year at Notre Dame with a 315-149 (.679) record, while his career mark stands at 597-243 (.711). He is on the verge of becoming just the fourth active NCAA Division I coach to reach 600 career victories. Bayliss has had just one losing season in his career and has seen his teams finish in the top 20 nine times in the past 15 years, advancing to the NCAA round of 16 on five occasions, highlighted by a quarterfinal appearance in 1993 and a national runner-up finish in ’92. He also is one of just four coaches in Division I to have led his current team to 13 NCAA tournaments over the last 14 seasons. Bayliss, named national coach of the year in 1980 and ’92, is a four-time ITA Midwest Region coach of the year and 11-time conference coach of the year (including on four occasions in the last seven years in the BIG EAST). In his time at Notre Dame, Bayliss’ teams have won 11 conference titles, while his players have earned All-America honors 17 times, won eight national ITA awards, and earned 16 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 11 to the NCAA doubles tournament.
IRISH REACH HIGHEST-RANKING SINCE 2002: Despite losing once in three matches at last week’s Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic, Notre Dame moved up two spots to 16th in this week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Associaion (ITA) national team rankings, released on Tuesday. They are the last to be determined by coaches’ voting, as next week will mark the switch to the ITA’s point-per-match computer formula. Notre Dame’s ranking is its highest since finishing the 2001-02 season 14th. The Irish have no one listed in the national singles or doubles rankings.
4-3 AGAIN????: Not only has Notre Dame seen seven of its 17 matches this season end in 4-3 scores (holding an appropriate 4-3 record in those), but the Irish have had five of their last six contests be tied 3-3 with one three-set contest remaining. At Michigan State on Feb. 22, junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) beat Brian Compton at No. 6 by scores of 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5). The Irish then nearly upset #2 Virginia on Feb. 27 in Richmond, but #38 Rylan Rizza beat sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) 6-3, 6-7(4-7), 6-3 at No. 2 in the decisive affair. Last week’s Blue-Gray Classic saw three consecutive matches come down to one match left with the score knotted at 3-3. Sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) beat Colin O’Brien of William & Mary 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 in the opening round and then capped the tournament by delivering the victory against #27 Rice with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 triumph against Ben Harknett. In the quarterfinals, Boise State’s Ikaika Jobe beat Irish freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 at No. 4 in the last match. Parbhu beat Chris Westerhof 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to clinch Notre Dame’s 4-3 win against Florida State on Jan. 30, while the Feb. 4 match vs. Texas saw 93rd-ranked Longhorn Callum Beale beat Irish senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 at No. 1 in the final match left.
FIVE WITH 20: With more than two months remaining in the season, Notre Dame already has seen five players notch 20+ singles victories for the 2004-05 campaign. Leading the way are freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), who is 25-6, and junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.), who is 25-7. Sophomore Irackli Akhvlediani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School) stands 22-10, while sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) is 21-6 and his classmate, Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), is 21-9. Overall, Irish players have combined for a 170-70 (.708) record in singles this season.
NOTRE DAME BECOMES SIXTH SCHOOL WITH 1,000 VICTORIES: A 5-2 upset of #18 North Carolina on Jan. 29 served as the 1,000th victory in the 83-year history of the Irish varsity program. The Irish became just the sixth Division I program to register 1,000 victories, joining Texas, Georgia, USC, Stanford, and UCLA.
TOP-20 ACTION IN THE ECK: Thursday will be the first matchup of top-20 men’s teams in the Eck Tennis Pavilion since #10 LSU edged the 16th-ranked Irish 4-3 on Feb. 12, 1996. Since then, Notre Dame has played in a number of top-20 matchups, but most have come on the road. There have been a pair of top-20 contests at the Courtney Tennis Center since then. On April 10, 2001, 16th-ranked Notre Dame beat #19 Indiana State 4-3 in a match that saw the final contest moved indoors due to darkness. On April 13, 2002, #16 Kentucky beat the seventh-ranked Irish 4-1 outdoors.
IRISH SEEK HIGHEST-RANKED REGULAR-SEASON WIN: A win on Thursday would make Illinois the highest-ranked team ever to lose to Notre Dame in regular-season play. That distinction is currently shared by the 1992 LSU and ’94 Duke teams, who were both ranked #4 when falling to the Irish. The Tigers lost 4-1 in the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championship, while the Blue Devils fell 4-3 in Durham. Notre Dame’s all-time highest-ranked victory was an upset of #1 USC in the semifinals of the 1992 NCAA Championship.
BAYLISS HITS 600: Notre Dame’s 5-2 home victory against Northwestern on Feb. 18 marked the 600th in the illustrious career of Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. The mentor, who is in his 36th year as a head coach, currently stands 604-247 (.710). He is one of just four active Division I coaches to have 600+ career wins, joining Furman’s Paul Scarpa, Rich Gugat of Air Force, and Rice’s Ron Smarr, who saw his Owls lose 4-3 to Bayliss’ Irish last week at the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic. Bayliss is 323-153 (.679) in 18 years at Notre Dame after previously coaching for 15 seasons at Navy (1970-84) and for three at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1985-87).
HIGH AS A KITE: Illinois will be the highest-ranked team to play in the Eck Tennis Pavilion since the last visit by the Fighting Illini, which saw #2 Illinois beat the Irish 6-1 on Jan. 29, 2003, en route to an undefeated season. The highest-ranked team ever to lose in the facility was #8 Duke, which fell 4-3 to the 29th-ranked Irish on Feb. 16, 1997.
TOP-FIVE FOES vs. ND: Notre Dame will try to snap a four-match losing streak against top-five teams on Thursday. The last Irish victory against a team listed among the national top five was a 4-3 road victory for #6 Notre Dame against fifth-ranked Illinois on March 7, 2002. Incidentally, that also stands as the last home loss for the Fighting Illini, who have won 37 straight in the Atkins Tennis Center since then. At home, Notre Dame has not defeated a top-five opponent in the 18-year tenure of Irish head coach Bob Bayliss, holding an 0-6 mark. Two of those matches were 4-3 affairs, both coming in the 1993-94 season: Feb. 13 vs. #4 Texas and May 21 vs. #4 Georgia in the round of 16 of the NCAA Championship.
BUCHANAN FASTEST IRISH PLAYER EVER TO REACH 20 WINS: Junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) defeated David Stone 6-3, 6-4 at No. 6 singles on Jan. 29 in helping Notre Dame to a 5-2 upset of #18 North Carolina. That victory improved his season singles record to 20-2 and made him the fastest Notre Dame player ever to win 20 matches in a season. Previously, the quickest any Irish student-athlete registered his 20th singles victory was on Feb. 6, 1999, when third-ranked Ryan Sachire (’01) defeated #25 Daniel Andersson of VCU to win the consolation title in the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships to improve to 20-4. The three-time Irish All-American went 37-9 that season. The last time an Irish player won 20 of his first 22 matches was in 2001-02, when Matthew Scott opened 22-2 en route to a 32-5 mark.
IRISH ONLY TEAM WITH FIVE IN TOP 21 IN MIDWEST REGION: After a fall season that saw Notre Dame’s depth showcased at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Championships, the Irish were rewarded when the ITA’s Midwest Region rankings were released on Nov. 30. Notre Dame was the only school to have five players among the top 21 in the region in singles (no other school – including #5 Illinois and #11 Ohio State – had more than three). In fact, only three teams in Division I – also #32 Oklahoma State and #60 Tulsa in the Central Region – placed five among the top 21 in their respective regions. Sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), who reached the semis of the ITA Midwest Championships, led the way in a fourth-place tie with Ohio State’s Joey Atas after he was 10-3 in the first semester, with wins against #97 Atas and #56 Paul Rose of Purdue and all of his defeats coming vs. nationally-ranked opponents. Sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) checked in at 14th after going 7-3 and reaching the round of 16 of the ITA Midwest Championships, and notching upsets of #26 Jeff Kader of William & Mary and #50 Chris Martin of Illinois. Rookie Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), who reached the semifinals of the Midland Invitational and the A flight of the Crimson Tide Fall Championships, as well as being one of just two freshmen in the round of 16 in the regional tournament, was ranked 18th after going 12-4 and defeating #31 Derrick Spice of Wake Forest. Junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) was 19th following a fall season in which he went 16-2 and reached the round of 16 in the Midwest Championships, while senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) came in 21st with a 6-3 record. D’Amico and junior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) were Notre Dame’s only entrant in the doubles listing, coming in at 14th after advancing to the final 16 in the regional championships.
PARBHU TOP ROOKIE IN REGION: Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), who reached the semifinals of the Midland Invitational and upset #31 Derrick Spice of Wake Forest en route to the same round in the A flight of the Crimson Tide Fall Championships, was the top-ranked freshman in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Region rankings, released Nov. 30. He went 12-4 in his first collegiate semester and was one of just two rookies to reach the final 16 in the ITA Midwest Championships. In fact, only four freshmen were in the top 30 of the regional singles rankings, with Michigan’s Matko Maravic 20th, Mike McCarthy of Indiana at 26th, and Illinois’ Monte Tucker coming in 30th. Parbhu currently stands 25-6 on the season, including 13-2 in dual matches, mostly at No. 4, with one of those victories a straight-set win against McCarthy and another a three-setter against Chris Westerhof to clinch Notre Dame’s 4-3 win against Florida State.
IRISH UNBEATEN IN MORE THAN A YEAR AGAINST THE MIDWEST REGION: Notre Dame is unbeaten in six dual matches against the ITA’s Midwest Region this spring, having defeated Toledo (7-0), Indiana (5-2), Wisconsin (6-1), Marquette (7-0), Northwestern (5-2), and Michigan State (4-3). The Irish have now won nine in a row vs. the Midwest Region after going 8-2 against regional foes last season. Their last loss came on Feb. 28, 2004, a 4-3 affair against #12 Ohio State in the Eck Tennis Pavilion that saw the Irish hold a 3-1 lead before dropping three straight three-set affairs.
NOTRE DAME WINNING MORE THAN 75% OF SINGLES MATCHES AGAINST THE MIDWEST REGION: This season, Irish players have compiled a 83-24 record in singles against players from the Midwest Region, translating to a .776 winning percentage. Among the team’s leaders is junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.), who is 16-1 against the region (the lone loss coming against #23 Jakub Praibis of Indiana), while sophomore Irackli Akhveldiani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School) is 12-3, sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) is 11-3, sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) is 12-4, and freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) is 8-1.
IRISH DEPTH SHINES AT ITA MIDWEST CHAMPIONSHIPS: Notre Dame’s depth was the story in the annual indoor tournament of the top players in the region, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Championships, held Oct. 21-26 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Irish took up three of the eight qualifying spots into the main draw (more than any other team) to have a total of eight student-athletes among the 64-player singles field. No other school had more than six in this year’s tournament, and no team other than the Irish has qualified more than six in the main draw since the current format was adopted three years ago (Notre Dame also had seven participants in 2003-04). All but one Irish player was victorious in the opening round, giving Notre Dame by far the most players (seven) in the round of 32. The Irish also had four in the final 16 of the singles draw, the most of any school.
Stephen Bass BECOMES FIRST SOPHOMORE SINCE 1998 TO PLAY No. 1 FOR ND: Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) played No. 1 singles for the Irish in the first six dual matches this spring. He is the first sophomore to play at the top of the Notre Dame singles lineup since three-time All-American Ryan Sachire played No. 1 for the Irish during all of the 1997-98 season, compiling an 18-6 record. Bass is 4-3 at the spot this year, but he has lately been playing No. 2 (going 7-3).
IRISH FINALLY BREAK THROUGH vs. TOP-25 FOE: On Jan. 29, Notre Dame notched a 5-3 home victory against #18 North Carolina to snap a 15-match losing streak against top-25 teams. Prior to that contest, the Irish had not defeated a team ranked among the top 25 since #6 ND beat #5 Illinois 4-3 in Champaign on March 7, 2002.
NO DOUBLES? NO PROBLEM: Losing the doubles point has not necessarily translated into a loss for Notre Dame, as the Irish are 10-10 over the past two seasons when dropping the match’s initial point. Notre Dame is 4-3 this year, having come back to win after losing the doubles against Wisconsin (6-1), Northwestern (5-2), Michigan State (4-3), and Rice (4-3).
IRISH STRONG AGAINST LOWER-RANKED TEAMS: Notre Dame is 12-2 against lower-ranked teams this spring, continuing its recent success against squads that hold a lower national ranking (or none) at the time of the match. Since April of 2003, the Irish have gone 26-3 (.897) against lower-ranked teams, with all of the defeats coming by 4-3 scores. Last year, #50 Virginia Tech upset the 26th-ranked Irish on April 4, 2004, in Blacksburg. This spring, #34 Texas (now ranked 12th) edged #25 Notre Dame on Feb. 24, while #55 Boise State (now ranked 41st) won in the Blue-Gray Classic quarterfinals against the 18th-ranked Irish. In all, six of the last seven – and eight of the last 11 – losses to lower-ranked teams for Notre Dame have been decided by 4-3 scores.
CLOSING IT OUT: Notre Dame has been particularly proficient in turning first-set victories into match wins this season, as Irish players have combined for a 149-13 (.920) record when claiming the opening set. Leading the way is sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), who is 17-0, and senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School), who is 10-0. Junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) is 24-1 and had a streak of 32 consecutive wins in the situation snapped last week against Rice. Other top performers are sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College), who is 20-1, junior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.), who is 11-1, and freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), who is 23-2.
STREAKS: The following streaks are active heading into Thursday’s match against Illinois:
– Stephen Bass has won 25 consecutive matches when taking the opening set (32-1 career record) [only loss: 2/8/04 vs. Purdue’s David Robinson, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 1-0 (10-8)]
– Brent D’Amico has won 16 consecutive matches when winning the opening set [last loss: 2/1/04 vs. Duke’s Jason Zimmermann 1-6, 6-2, 6-1]
– Stephen Bass has won 13 consecutive outdoor singles matches (17-1 career record) [only loss: 3/12/04 vs. VCU’s Sergi Arumi 6-1, 6-2 in Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic]
– Eric Langenkamp has won nine consecutive home matches in singles [last loss: 2/29/04 vs. Miami’s Jeremiah Fuller 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (10-7)]
– Patrick Buchanan has lost eight consecutive match tiebreakers (career record: 1-8) [only win: 9/19/02 vs. William & Mary’s Alexander Fish 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-2)]
D’AMICO, CHIMERAKIS SERVE AS IRISH CAPTAINS: Seniors Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) and Nick Chimerakis (North Palm Beach, Fla./Benjamin School) were elected captains of this year’s Notre Dame team. D’Amico, also a tri-captain as a junior, is just the fifth two-year captain in the last 25 years for the Irish, while Chimerakis has made the journey from earning a spot on the team in walk-on tryouts in 2002-03 to assuming a leadership role.
KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.firstname.lastname@example.org, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.