April 24, 2008
Match Details: #31 Notre Dame (15-10) at #13 Florida State (19-5) Saturday, April 26, 2008, 1:00 p.m. Scott Speicher Tennis Center, Tallahassee, FL
Irish Claim Fourth Big East Title in Five Years: The Notre Dame men’s tennis team claimed their second straight Big East championship and fourth in five years with a dramatic 4-3 win over host South Florida in Sunday morning’s title match in Tampa. Notre Dame entered the tournament having dropped six of eight matches, but the Irish won three contests in as many days to earn the conference crown. Freshman Daniel Stahl battled back from 4-1 down in the second set in the deciding match, winning five straight games to earn the victory 7-6 (4), 6-4 over Diego Toledo. The title clinched an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament for Notre Dame, marking the 17th time in 18 years that the Irish will appear in the championships. The tournament is set to begin May 9 at 16 yet to be determined campus sites. Last season, the Irish advanced to the round of 16 as the No. 5 overall seed before falling to No. 12 USC 4-3.
Bayliss, Helgeson Earn Top Big East Honors: For the second time in as many years, Notre Dame captured both the Big East Coach of the Year and Most Outstanding Player awards. Coach Bobby Bayliss won the award for the seventh time in eleven years as he led the Irish to their fourth Big East crown in five years. Helgeson followed ’07 graduate Stephen Bass in capturing Most Outstanding Player honors. The Irish junior lost only four total games in three wins at the tournament, and also won two doubles matches with partner Sheeva Parbhu. Parbhu joined Helgeson and freshman Daniel Stahl on the all-tournament singles team while Andrew Roth and Santiago Montoya joined Helgeson and Parbhu on the all-Big East doubles team. Roth, Montoya, and Stahl each earned their initial all-conference recognition, while Parbhu earned his second singles honor ( ’07, ’08) and second doubles recognition (’07, ’08). Helgeson made the all-Big East team for the third straight year having earned singles recognition in ’06 and doubles honors in ’07.
Parbhu One Win Shy of 200 career wins: Senior captain Sheeva Parbhu earned five combined wins over the weekend (two doubles, three singles), to run his career win total to 199. With his next win, Parbhu will become just the fourth player in Notre Dame tennis history to earn 200 career wins. He will join recent ITA Hall of Fame inductee David DiLucia, Andy Zurcher, and current assistant coach Ryan Sachire in this elite club. Parbhu currently stands in the career top 10 in the following categories: singles wins (121, 5th), doubles wins (78, t-4th), combined wins (199, 4th), and singles dual match wins (75, t-7th).
Scouting the Seminoles: Florida State has been ranked in the top 15 for the majority of the season thanks to a third place finish and 10-3 record in the ACC. The Seminoles recently had five match winning streak halted with a 4-3 upset loss to No. 25 Miami in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. The Hurricanes were the lowest ranked team Florida State had lost to all season. The Seminoles have also fallen to #19 Florida (5-2), #4 Texas (6-1), #13 North Carolina (4-3) and #1 Virginia (6-1).
Florida State features three ranked singles players led by 15th-ranked Jean-Yves Aubone. The sophomore has posted a 17-5 mark in dual play and has 12 wins over ranked singles foes. Freshman Clint Bowles has had a solid rookie year at the No. 2 singles position, going 15-9 this spring and earning a No. 75 ranking. Sam Chang provides veteran leadership for Florida State at No. 3. The 90th ranked senior has the second most dual wins on the team with 15, and has posted a 10-2 mark against ACC opponents. Aubone and Bowles play the top position in doubles for Florida State and are 14-10 on the season as a team. Overall, the Seminoles have posted a 44-27 mark in paired play this season, good for a .620 winning percentage.
Series against Florida State: Saturday will mark the seventh time that Florida State and Notre Dame will meet in men’s tennis. The Irish have won five of six previous meetings including each of the last four. 11th ranked Notre Dame defeated 13th ranked Florida State 5-2 at home last year. The Irish have never lost in Tallahassee, winning two previous meetings. The lone Seminole win came in 2003 when visiting Florida State defeated Notre Dame 4-3 in South Bend.
Rankings Update: Notre Dame climbed two spots in the recent ITA poll to No. 31. Helgeson remains Notre Dame’s highest ranked singles player at #45. He was joined in this week’s poll by Sheeva Parbhu who was ranked #100.