May 23, 2007
ATHENS, Ga. – Notre Dame’s eighth-ranked and seventh-seeded senior Steven Bass (Bronxville, NY) registered a 6-2, 6-4 straight-set victory over #63 Kaes Van’t Hof of USC on Wednesday afternoon in NCAA Singles round of 64 action from the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Also on Wednesday, junior #59 Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, NE) nearly pulled off a major upset over second-ranked and 2006 NCAA Singles Runner-up Somdev Devarrman of Virginia before ultimately losing in three sets, including a third set tie-breaker, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (2).
Bass, who seemed unbothered by the ankle injury suffered in the round of 16 loss to USC, improves to 36-10 on the season and 109-45 for his career. The 36 victories rank tied for fifth-best in single-season Notre Dame history. Bass now moves into the round of 32 and faces #64 Alex Slovic of Washington. Slovic upset Illinois’ #22 Ryan Rowe in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Bass defeated Slovic in an earlier meeting this season in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 on March 5.
Parbhu, who was named an All-American last year after reaching the quarterfinals, was not able to repeat the feat, despite an incredible effort against Devarrman.
With the third and final set tied, 6-6, Parbhu and Devarrman took part in a tie-breaker to decide the match. Devarrman raced out to an early 3-0 lead, including a point on Parbhu’s serve to open the breaker. Parbhu did narrow the gap to 3-2, following consecutive points on serve, but Devarrman answered with a point on serve to push his lead to 5-2. Following a great back hand that ran Devarrman completely off the court, Parbhu’s ensuing backhand went into the net setting up a match point for Devarrman.
After returning Devarrman’s massive first serve, Parbhu’s next forehand sailed long to end the match. Parbhu ends the 2007 season at 29-12 overall, while Devarrman improves to 39-5.
Parbhu dropped the opening set, 6-1, and trailed 3-0 in the second set, before finally showing the form that was on display in the 2006 draw. Parbhu held serve to cut the deficit to 4-2, but was still in desperate need of a service break. He had a pair of chances to break in the opening set, but was turned away both times. Third time proved to be a charm as Parbhu was able to break Devarrman to make the score, 4-3.
Parbhu had a chance to draw even, 4-4, but Devarrman raced out to a 40-0 lead on his serve. The Irish junior then registered four consecutive points to take advantage before Devarrman brought it back to deuce. Parbhu regained advantage and got back on serve, 4-4, when Devarrman’s back hand sailed long.
Parbhu rode that momentum and had double-break point before hammering a forehand just inside the line and past the out-stretched reach of Devarrman to take a 5-4 lead. Parbhu remained unfazed, even after Devarrman was able to break back and tie the set at 5-5. He quickly took a 30-0 lead on Devarrman’s ensuing service game and eventually had a double-break point for a 6-5 lead. After first break point attempt failed, Devarrman’s unforced error gave Parbhu the game and a second chance to serve out the set.
Parbhu wasted no time and unleashed a trio of huge forehand winners to grab triple-set point, and following a beautiful drop shot took the second set, 7-5.
Devarrman and Parbhu each held serve early in the third set, 1-1, but Parbhu had double-break point, 40-15, and eventually broke following another great forehand winner to take a 2-1 lead. Devarrman raced out to a 30-0 lead in the next game, but Parbhu fought back to 30-30 and held serve following consecutive returns from Devarrman into the net, increasing his lead to 3-1.
Parbhu continued to press Devarrman, forcing deuce on his following service game, but Devarrman would not be broken two times in a row and took two straight points to climb back within a point, 3-2.
Leading 40-30 in the service game, Parbhu’s untimely double fault — his only of the match — brought it back to deuce, but a forehand and great backhand drop shot gave Parbhu the advantage and he held on to win the game following another errant Devarrman backhand.
Devarrman wasted no time on his next service game cutting Parbhu’s lead to 4-3.
The two battle-tested players would then take part in a brilliant eighth game of the third set. Devarrman took an early 30-0 lead following a pair of great lob shots, but Parbhu answered back with two tremendous forehands to even the game at 30-30. After Devarrman had a break point, 30-40, Parbhu had Devarrman running side to side along the baseline just to keep the point alive. Parbhu dropped, what appeared to be, a winner, but Devarrman was able to charge the net and return the shot only to have Parbhu rifled a backhand right back, but Devarrman somehow got his racquet on the ball and kept it inside the line to seal the break and tie the set, 4-4.
Parbhu did have another break point at 4-4, but Devarrman responded with a massive first serve ace to set up deuce and after Parbhu’s return sailed wide, Devarrman used another ace of the game to grab a 5-4 lead.
Parbhu had 15-0 lead in the 10th service game of the set and used a little Irish luck when a backhand almost sat on the top of the net before dropping over to make it 30-0. After Devarrman drew within, 30-15, the two traded a half dozen backhands before Devarrman’s sailed long to give Parbhu a 40-15 advantage, and took the game following a gorgeous leaping backhand overhead to put the match all square, 5-5.
The two traded service games setting up the tie-breaker.