April 25, 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Notre Dame men’s tennis head coach Bobby Bayliss was named the 2007 BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year, while senior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, NY) was tabbed as the league’s Most Outstanding Player following a vote by the BIG EAST head coaches on Wednesday. In addition to Bass, the Irish placed sophomore Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, KS), senior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland) and junior Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, NE) on the singles BIG EAST All-Tournament squad. Notre Dame also had the doubles’ teams of Bass and senior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, IN) and Helgeson and Parbhu honored.
Bayliss has now captured BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors on six occasions. He won the award previously in 1998, ’99, 2002, ’04 and ’05. Bayliss has guided the Irish to a 24-3 mark this season, including the program’s seventh BIG EAST Conference Championship. The 24-victories are the most in a single-season for Notre Dame since 1989-90. The Irish are just three wins shy from tying the school record of 27 set during the 1980-81 campaign.
Only three other Notre Dame coaches can equal Bayliss’ six BIG EAST Coach of the Year awards. Jay Louderback has earned the award six times on the women’s tennis side. Bailey Weathers also picked up the honor six times (1997, ’98, ’99, 2001, ’02, ’05) in his 10 seasons as the Irish women’s swimming and diving coach, while longtime track and field and men’s cross country mentor Joe Piane has 10 trophies to his credit, though they span four sports (men’s cross country in 2001, ’04, and ’05; men’s indoor track and field in 2003 and ’05; women’s indoor track and field in 2002 and ’06; and men’s outdoor track and field in 1999, 2000, and ’03). Bass, who is currently ranked eighth in this week’s FILA/ITA rankings, went 33-9 this season, including 22-3 in dual matches. He capped off the title victory over rival Louisville with clinching victories in both doubles and singles. Bass is the fourth Notre Dame player to capture the award, following in the footsteps of current assistant coach Ryan Sachire (1999 and 2000) and Brent D’Amico (2005). He was awarded to the singles all-tournament team in both 2004 and 2005.
Bass is simply one of the top players in Notre Dame tennis history. He ranks sixth all-time in school history with 106 career singles victories. Bass also recently moved into the top 10 in career dual match wins (68). His 33 victories this season rank ninth best in single-season Irish history.
Helgeson, King and Parbhu were each instrumental as Notre Dame failed to drop a singles or doubles point in its three victories en route to the championship. Helgeson (29-7, 21-4) went 2-0 at No. 3 singles and dropped just seven games in his three matches. The only match in which he did not come away victorious, he led 6-3, 5-1 when the match was halted. King (32-7, 21-3), who posted a 2-0 record at No. 4 singles in the tournament, earned his second nod on the all-tournament team (2005). He also lost just seven games in those three matches. Parbhu (28-11, 18-5) was victorious in the only singles match of his that finished, as he disposed of Artem Vlasenko of St. John’s in the semifinals.
Bass and Keckley were equally impressive in doubles action. The tandem, which has jumped all the way to #33 in the most recent FILA/ITA rankings, cruised to three victories. The senior duo improved to 6-0 on the season, all at No. 1 doubles, and knocked off #22 Slavko Radman and Damar Johnson of Louisville for the second time in a week. The honor is the first in doubles for Bass, while Keckley has been named all-tournament in doubles each of the past two years. Helgeson and Parbhu were also awarded to the all-tournament team in doubles.
Notre Dame earned an automatic bid to play in the 2007 NCAA Division I Championship, which will see the first two round played on campus sites from May 12-13 and the final four rounds contested at the University of Georgia from May 17-22. The NCAA selection show will take place on Tuesday, May 1, at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPNews.
— ND —