Senior Stephen Bass and junior Sheeva Parbhu.

Bass, Parbhu Move Into Round Of 16 At ITA National Indoors

Nov. 3, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Notre Dame joined 17-time national champion Stanford as the only schools to place multiple singles players among the final 16 in the second grand slam of the season, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, when Irish junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) and sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) both prevailed in opening-round matches against top-30 players on Thursday in the Racquet Club of Columbus. It is the first time ever that two Notre Dame players have reached the second round of the elite 32-player draw.

Parbhu, ranked 77th nationally, led off the day with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 upset of 28th-ranked Shannon Buck from Air Force. The 74th-ranked Bass then stepped onto the same court and knocked off #16 Rylan Rizza of Virginia 7-5, 6-1. Both will play round-of-16 contests on Friday, to start not before 10:30 a.m. (EST) The quarterfinals will be played on Friday afternoon.

“Stephen and Sheeva both continued their strong starts to the season,” said Irish assistant coach Todd Doebler, who accompanied them to the tournament. “It’s really exciting to see both of these guys continue to develop and hopefully rise to be among the nation’s elite college players.”

Parbhu faced several break points in the opening set, but was able to hold on in each of his service games and then come back for a three-set victory.

“Sheeva’s match was an up-and-down affair,” said Doebler. “The first set was much closer than the score indicated, and then Shannon was steady in the second, while Sheeva showed a bit of impatience and tried to finish points too quickly. In the third, he started getting up in the court again and played aggressively, taking the match to Shannon.”

The Irish sophomore has now won 18 consecutive matches – excluding a loss against Bass last month in the final of the Wilson/ITA Midwest Championships – and stands 11-1 on the season. Parbhu – who was the team MVP last year with a 32-7 record, including 20-3 in dual action at Nos. 3 and 4 – had not been nationally-ranked as a collegian prior to this fall, but he has responded by going 4-1 against ranked players (after being 1-2 last season). Parbhu is now 43-8 in his career, including 8-2 in three-set affairs and 16-2 in close matches.

Buck, who has twice earned invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship, signed a letter of intent in 2001 to play for the Irish, but then elected to enroll at the United States Air Force Academy. He came into the match with an 11-3 record this fall, including four wins over top-50 players.

Up next for Parbhu will be the surprising Croat, Mislav Hizak from Embry-Riddle College, an NAIA institution in Daytona Beach, Fla. He earned a spot in the tournament by winning the ITA National Small College Championships singles title last month and then knocked off the national #1 player and top-seeded defending champion Ryler DeHeart of Illinois 6-3, 6-4 in Thursday’s opening round.

Bass continued his perfect fall by defeating Rizza, who registered a 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 victory in dual-match action last spring at No. 3 in a 4-3 win by Virginia. The ND junior served for the first set at 5-4, but was broken. From then on, he won eight of nine games to end the match, first breaking serve and then serving out the set.

“It was great to see Stephen beat someone who has established himself as a very good college tennis player,” said Doebler. “It was good that he was able to serve out the first set on his second try after almost giving it back to Rizza. Stephen then played solidly in the second and closed out the match. The hard work and the improvements he has made in his game were evident today, as he defeated a player that beat him last spring.”

Bass is 12-0 this season, with seven of the wins coming against ranked opponents. For the second time this fall, he registered the highest-ranked victory of his collegiate career to date. Heading into this season, his top win came against then-#56 Paul Rose of Purdue in the 2004 Tom Fallon Invitational. In this year’s TFI, Bass downed 42nd-ranked Matko Maravic of Michigan. He is 58-21 in his career.

Rizza played Nos. 2 and 3 for Virginia last year, helping the Cavaliers to the #2 overall seed in the NCAA Championship and an appearance in the national quarterfinals.

Bass will face the tournament’s No. 6 seed, 13th-ranked Luke Shields of Boise State, on Friday morning. Shields is 11-1 this fall, with his lone defeat coming in the round of 16 of the season’s first grand slam, the Polo Ralph Lauren ITA All-American Championships, against DeHeart in a three-set affair. He beat Buck last month to win the singles title of the Wilson/ITA Mountain Regional Championships. Last spring, Shields won a three-set match (6-4, 4-6, 6-0) against the now-graduated Brent D’Amico of Notre Dame at No. 1 singles in a 4-3 upset win by the Broncos in the quarterfinals of the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic.

Just six schools – Duke, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Virginia – qualified two players for the 32-player singles draw (none had more than two). Only the Irish and Cardinal saw both of their entrants triumph on day one. Stanford’s seventh-seeded KC Corkery beat Raul Morant-Rivas of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 6-2, 6-1, while eighth-seeded freshman Matt Bruch downed Oklahoma State’s Tomas Bohunicky 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-1.

Only two players among the final 16 – 104th-ranked Bruch and #113 Martin Sayer of Radford – have lower rankings than Bass and Parbhu. Hizak is technically unranked, as there are no NAIA preseason rankings, but he finished last season fifth in that division.

Friday’s matches will have a strong American flavor, as exactly one-half of the players remaining in the singles draw, including both Bass and Parbhu, have hometowns in the United States.

This year marked the fourth time – all since 1992 – that Notre Dame has had multiple players in the men’s singles draw of the National Indoor Championships, but the first since 1995. Each of those previous instances had seen one competitor lose in the first round and the other win one match before falling in the round of 16. Only one Irish player – Ryan Sachire in 2000 (which also marks the last time a Notre Dame player took part in the singles draw) – has ever advanced past the round of 16 into the quarterfinals.

ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships (November 3)Singles Main Draw - First Round#77 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. #28 Shannon Buck (Air Force) 6-1, 1-6, 6-2#74 Stephen Bass (ND) def. #16 Rylan Rizza (Virginia) 7-5, 6-1