Eck Tennis Pavilion/Courtney Tennis Center Manager
Over 44 years, Bob Bayliss built a reputation as one of the top collegiate tennis coaches in the country. Few others turned out so many exceptional players, had such great team success and earned as many honors as Bayliss, who served as head coach of the Fighting Irish for 26 seasons. Bayliss finished his career fifth on the all-time career wins list for Division I men’s tennis with a record of 765-339-1 (.692).
During his tenure with the Irish, Bayliss saw several milestone wins posted on his historic ledger. With just his ninth victory as head of the Irish, the new Notre Dame skipper recorded his 300th career win, posting a 9-0 shutout of Marquette on March 4, 1988. After that, Bayliss posted his 400th (Indiana, 6-1 on March 3, 1993), 500th (Duke, 4-3 on March 26, 1998), 600th (Virginia Tech, 4-2 on May 1, 2004) and 700th (Middle Tennessee State, 4-2 on March 18, 2010) career victories all while heading the Irish program.
Bayliss’ teams’ accomplishments speak for themselves. Not only did he lead the Irish to 22 NCAA Championship berths in his last 23 seasons, but he also helped his teams post 10 top-20 finishes in that time. Bayliss’ squads advanced to the round-of-16 in the NCAA tournament on seven occasions, including a quarterfinal appearance in 1993 and a trip to the NCAA title match in 1992.
The Irish had individuals appear in the NCAA Singles Championship 26 times since 1990, including Greg Andrews in 2012 and 2013, while doubles duos appeared in the NCAA Doubles Championship 14 times, including Niall Fitzgerald and Casey Watt in 2012.
In BIG EAST competition, the Irish won nine tournament titles and appeared in the finals 16 out of a possible 18 opportunities. Notre Dame never finished outside the top four under Bayliss at the conference tournament.
Among the individual accolades that the team enjoyed in BIG EAST play under Bayliss include 2011 freshman of the year and 2012 and 2013 player of the year Greg Andrews, 2013 freshman of the year Quentin Monaghan, six BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Players, 16 all-BIG EAST team members, 16 BIG EAST Championship all-tournament team singles members and nine BIG EAST Championship all-tournament team doubles duos.
The 2000’s proved to be quite a decade for the Irish, especially 2001-08, as the program claimed six BIG EAST championship titles. Bayliss was named the BIG EAST conference Coach of the Year five times in that period (`02, `04, `05, `07 and `08), while seeing four of his players named All-Americans, Javier Taborga (2002), Casey Smith (2002), Sheeva Parbhu (2006) and Steven Bass (2007). In 2003-04 the team not only excelled on the courts, but also in the classroom as they were named to the ITA all-Academic team.
The 2001 squad vaulted from a preseason ranking of 33rd to a season-high 10th before finishing at 16th. For the first time since 1993, the Irish won the Blue Gray National Classic and returned to the top 10.
Under Bayliss’ tenure, 10 Notre Dame men’s tennis student-athletes combined to earn All-America citations on 19 occasions and brought home eight ITA national awards. A pair of Irish players and three Notre Dame doubles teams earned national rankings in the top-five under Bayliss. Six of his players were honored with the Byron V.
Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor given to Notre Dame senior student-athlete monogram winners who have been exemplary both as students and leaders.
The professional ranks were the next step for a number of competitors who spent four years under Bayliss’ tutelage. David DiLucia, who was ranked No. 1 nationally in both singles and doubles while at Notre Dame, went on to a successful pro career in which he played in the singles main draw of all four grand-slam events, entered the world top-100 in doubles and clinched the 2001 World Team Tennis title for the Philadelphia Freedoms. He also served as the personal coach of Lindsay Davenport, the former world No. 1-ranked women’s player. Three other former Notre Dame players (Richard Cahill, Andy Zurcher, and current associate head coach Ryan Sachire) have been ranked among the world’s top-400 doubles players, and a total of 15 former Irish players have gone on to earn an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) singles and/or doubles professional ranking since 1999.
Bayliss’ talent did not go unnoticed among his peers, as he was honored as national coach of the year twice. He also was a five-time Midwest Region Coach of the Year and was named the top coach in his conference on 14 occasions. In 1995, he was honored with the Meritorious Service Award – which previously had been bestowed upon just six coaches – for his extraordinary contributions to collegiate tennis and his service to the collegiate tennis community throughout his career.
Notre Dame’s Monogram Club recognized Bayliss’ accomplishments by awarding him an honorary monogram in 1993. At the time, he was one of just three Irish coaches to have been so honored.
On two occasions, Bayliss was selected to lead a team of collegiate all-stars into foreign competition. In the summer of 1991, Bayliss guided the United States team to a gold medal at the World University Games in Sheffield, England.
In the summer of 2003, he led an ITA All-Star Team to Tokyo, Japan, to take part in two “Dream Matches” – exhibition showdowns with the top Japanese collegiate tennis program (Waseda University) and a Japanese collegiate all-star squad. Bayliss and the USA were victorious in two hard-fought contests.
The popular coach wasted little time in making his mark on Notre Dame men’s tennis program. In just the third year under Bayliss (1990), Notre Dame received its first-ever listing in the ITA national rankings. DiLucia advanced to the NCAA Singles Championship for the second year and was named one of 16 seeded competitors, becoming the first Irish player to earn All-America honors in 22 years.
The remainder of the 1990’s marked Bayliss returning Irish men’s tennis to the national forefront. The reemergence of the program began promptly in `91 when Bayliss and the Irish earned a berth to the NCAA Championship for the first time since the team format was adopted in 1977. This feat was immediately matched and done one better, when, in `92, Bayliss coached his team to the NCAA Finals.
All told, over the course of the decade Bayliss and his Irish squads qualified for nine NCAA Championships, reaching the round of 16 or further on four occasions. In addition to their NCAA rebirth, Bayliss and his teams were able to capture conference titles eight times in that span – six in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and two in the BIG EAST after joining for the 1995-96 campaign.
Individually, Bayliss coached several of his players to national prominence led by DiLucia who graduated as a five-time All-American and winner of the Dan Magill Award as the top senior collegiate tennis player in the country. The list of accomplishments continues with one other player (Andy Zurcher) being named the Dan Magill Award winner and two additional players (Chuck Coleman, Mike Sprouse) receiving the Tennis Magazine/Arthur Ashe National Collegiate Award for Sportsmanship and Leadership. On top of all that, six of Bayliss’ players were tabbed as All-Americans on 13 occasions in the `90’s alone, including the team-best five selections for DiLucia.
For his hard work with the team during the `90’s, Bayliss enjoyed plenty of recognition of his own. Culminating by being named the ITA National Coach of the Year following the `92 season, Bayliss five times was tabbed as the conference Coach of the Year between both the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and the BIG EAST (three times in MCC and twice in BIG EAST), as well as three times (`91, `92, `95) being selected as the ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year.
What started as a foundation for the return of the men’s program in the `90’s turned into continued successes at the turn of the millennium. The 2000 Irish nearly pulled off the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA Team Championship, but No. 2 UCLA eventually prevailed 4-2 over the 34th-ranked Irish. Former Irish player and current associate head coach with Notre Dame Ryan Sachire also became the first Irish player to ever win the Ted A. Farnsworth/ITA National Senior Player of the Year Award and the John Van Nostrand Memorial Award, which gives a cash stipend to a senior player intending to pursue a professional career.
During his time as head coach, Bayliss was responsible for much more than just providing the Irish with a winning men’s tennis record. He oversaw the Eck Tennis Pavilion, and was responsible for improving the Courtney Tennis Center and erecting stadium-type bleachers for that outdoor facility as well as the resurfacing of the courts in August 2008. A series of free clinics for the Notre Dame and South Bend communities organized by Bayliss won the Irish program a grant from Volvo Tennis.
Bayliss came to Notre Dame after a three-year stint at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he guided the MIT men’s tennis team to a 43-23-1 (.649) record. He led MIT to two consecutive New England Intercollegiate titles, including the first in school history. He also was an assistant professor of physical education and the tennis pro at the Wellesley (Mass.) Country Club.
Before his stint at MIT, Bayliss spent 15 seasons at Navy (1970-84), where he led the Midshipmen to a 248-80 (.756) record. Being named the 1980 National Coach of the Year by the United States Professional Tennis Association highlighted his tenure. Navy finished with a 19-5 record that season and Bayliss was named the Maryland Professional of the Year.
He is the only Navy men’s tennis coach that never lost to Army and he was named the Mid-Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year in three consecutive seasons from 1978-80 before guiding the Middies to a 22-3 record in 1982. In addition to his tennis duties at Navy, Bayliss was an assistant professor of English and an associate professor of physical education. He also coached Navy’s squash team to a 42-16 (.724) record from 1978-1982. In the fall of 2005, Navy recognized Bayliss with both a plaque in the squash facility and the renaming of one of the tennis courts in his honor.
Bayliss was nationally esteemed in his profession. He lectured at the (USTA) program for teaching professionals and at the National Tennis Coaches convention. He oversaw the Notre Dame tennis camps in the summer and completed the USTA’s High Performance Coaching Program in 2002. In 2005, he traveled to Wimbledon to participate in a High Performance Continuing Education Program organized by the USTA.
Assistant coaches have benefited from spending time under Bayliss, as five have been named the top assistant in the Midwest Region since 1997. Four recent Irish assistants have gone on to head coaching positions. Brian Kalbas stayed on as an assistant under his former coach after graduating in 1989, eventually leaving for the head women’s tennis job at William & Mary. Kalbas is a two-time National Coach of the Year and now serves as head coach of North Carolina. Billy Pate (2000-02) was formerly the head coach at Alabama. Todd Doebler is the head coach of the men’s and women’s teams at Colorado College and Mike Morgan is the head coach at Middlebury. Finally, current Notre Dame head coach Ryan Sachire served as an assistant coach under Bayliss for six seasons.
Bayliss received his bachelor of arts degree in English at the University of Richmond (1966), where he also captained the tennis team and was a member of the basketball squad as a freshman. In 2002, he was inducted into the University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame. A member of Omicron Delta Kappa (national leadership fraternity), he completed his master’s degree in English at Richmond in 1971.
Bayliss and his wife, Pat, have four children: Jackie, Rob, Brendan and Patrick. All of them graduated from Notre Dame.