Sept. 7, 2005
After going through most of 2004-05 with none or one player in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national singles rankings, the University of Notre Dame placed four in the preseason edition for 2005-06, released on Tuesday. Junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) leads the way at a career-high 74th, while three Irish student-athletes earned their first-ever collegiate singles rankings: sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) at 77th, senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) at 89th, and freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) at 108th.
Notre Dame is one of just eight schools to have at least four players in the national singles rankings, joining Virginia (7 players ranked), Illinois (6), Florida (5), Duke (4), Miami (4), and Texas (4). It is the first time the Irish have had a quartet appearing in the singles rankings since the first set of spring rankings in the 2001-02 campaign, which featured five ND players. That listing had Javier Taborga at 23rd, Matthew Scott at 51st, Casey Smith at 94th, Aaron Talarico at 107th, and Andrew Laflin at 136th.
A year ago, Bass was the first Irish sophomore since 1998 to play No. 1 singles, and he finished 120th in the rankings. He posted a 24-13 overall record, including 14-10 in dual action (7-7 at No. 1). Bass heads into the second half of his career with a 46-20 (.697) career mark in singles, and his previous high ranking was 78th, which came in last season’s fall set after he reached the semifinals of the ITA Midwest Championships. He knocked off four nationally-ranked players in his second season and holds a 30-15 (.667) career record in dual play. Bass, the 2003-04 team MVP, is 14-2 as a collegian in three-set matches. He is the highest-ranked Irish player since Luis Haddock concluded his career at 74th at the end of the 2003-04 season.
Parbhu was tabbed the team’s MVP in 2004-05, leading the Irish in singles victories with a 31-7 record, including 19-3 in dual action, mostly at No. 4. He was unbeaten in the final two months of the season, ending his rookie campaign on a six-match winning streak. Parbhu was outstanding across the board, going 12-2 against the Midwest Region, as well as 10-2 in close matches and 18-6 in close sets. His first collegiate fall saw him advance to the semifinals of the Midland Invitational and to the semis of the A flight of the Crimson Tide Fall Championships, upsetting #31 Derrick Spice of Wake Forest in the latter event. In the spring, won in three sets to hand ND a 4-3 win over Florida State, which eventually reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
Langenkamp had a breakthrough summer, reaching the final of an ITA Summer Circuit event at Ohio State before claiming the singles title at the ITA National Summer Championships, defeating Purdue’s Paul Rose (ranked 54th in the preseason) in the quarters and Eric Hechtman of Miami (now ranked 100th) in the final. He has seen time near the bottom of the Irish lineup during his career and enters his final campaign with a 43-21 (.672) mark in singles. Langenkamp went 14-4 in 2004-05, including a perfect 6-0 mark in occasional dual action at No. 6. He has not dropped an official collegiate match since Oct. 30, 2004. Langenkamp also went 9-0 at home last season, as well as 6-1 in close matches and 12-4 in close sets. He holds a 17-9 (.654) record in dual action during his career.
Helgeson arrived on campus this fall after an outstanding career in junior tennis that was capped by his reaching the quarterfinals of the 2005 USTA Super National Hardcourt Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. He is just the second player – following five-time All-American and former national #1 David DiLucia (1989-92) – ever to reach the final eight in Kalamazoo and then play for Notre Dame. Helgeson was the only current collegiate freshman among the quarterfinalists. He is currently ranked #8 in the USTA’s 18-and-under national listing, including third among current collegians.
In addition, Barry King – who was 26-9 for Notre Dame in 2004-05, including 19-6 in dual action at Nos. 2 and 3 – was among nine players listed as having “insufficient data” in order to be ranked, as he will not compete collegiately this fall. He peaked at 100th as a sophomore.
Though Notre Dame’s 2005-06 schedule has not yet been officially approved and released, the Irish are tentatively slated to open the campaign with the Tom Fallon Invitational at home from Sept. 23-25.