Stephen Havens (back) and Casey Watt (front) lead the Irish into the 2010 BIG EAST Championships.

Irish In Pursuit Of Eighth BIG EAST Title

April 21, 2010

Complete BIG EAST Championship Notes Get Acrobat Reader

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s tennis team begins postseason play in pursuit of the program’s eighth BIG EAST title at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, April 23 at Leeper Park in South Bend, Ind. The Irish are serving as the co-hosts of the men’s and women’s 2010 BIG EAST tournaments along with the BIG EAST conference. Play will take place at both the Courtney Tennis Center on Notre Dame’s campus and at South Bend’s Leeper Park. Should rain force the action inside, the matches will be played at the Eck Tennis Pavilion and at the South Bend Racquet Club. The Fighting Irish men’s team is the second seed in the men’s draw.

2010 marks the 14th BIG EAST men’s tennis championship. Nine of the 16 members of the BIG EAST Conference field teams in men’s tennis, but the league does not require round-robin competition during the season. All nine teams, as seeded by the conference based on national ranking and head-to-head results, earn invitations to the league championship, a single-elimination team tournament with the winner gaining the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. Play begins with eighth-seeded Connecticut taking on ninth-seeded Villanova at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 22 at Leeper Park (South). The winner of that match will face top-seeded Louisville at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, April 23 at Leeper Park (South). The second-seeded Irish will face seventh-seeded Georgetown in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season; also at 9:00 a.m. on Friday at Leeper Park. Saturday’s semifinal matches will be played at noon at the Courtney Tennis Center, while Sunday’s Championship will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Courtney Tennis Center as well.

2010 BIG EAST Championship
Courtney Tennis Center — Notre Dame, Ind.
Leeper Park — South Bend, Ind.

Friday, April 23
BIG EAST Quarterfinals, 9:00 a.m. (EST) at Leeper Park (South)
#2 Notre Dame (13-11) vs. #7 Georgetown (10-11)

Saturday, April 24
BIG EAST Semifinals, Noon (EST) at Courtney Courts (North & South)

Sunday, April 25
BIG EAST Championship, 9:00 a.m. (EST) at Courtney Courts (North)

Following The Irish At The Championship
Daily recaps will be posted at, while complete results and updated matchups will be posted on, where fans can also access updated tournament draws.

The Georgetown Matchup
The Irish have played the Hoyas of Georgetown on eight occasions dating back to 1958, with the Irish holding a 7-1 series lead. The teams first met in 1958 in the finals of the Cherry Blossom Tournament in Washington, D.C. The Irish won that match, 8-1. Georgetown’s lone win in the series came in 1962, with the Hoyas earning a 5-4 win, also in the Cherry Blossom Tournament. The teams squared off in the quarterfinals of the 2006 BIG EAST tournament in Tampa, Fla., with Notre Dame recording a 4-0 win on that day. Last season, the Irish and Hoyas met in the BIG EAST quarterfinals, with Notre Dame coming away with a 4-0 win on April 17.

Scouting The Hoyas
The Hoyas enter the championship with a 10-11 overall record. Most recently, Georgetown earned a 5-2 home win over Navy on April 14 at the McDonough Outdoor Tennis Complex. The match against Navy, which Notre Dame defeated by the score of 7-0 on April 17, represents one of two common opponents the Hoyas and Irish faced this season. In addition to Navy, Georgetown dropped a 7-0 decision to Virginia on March 5, while Notre Dame fell to the Cavaliers, 7-4, on Jan. 24.

The win over Navy marked Georgetown’s third victory in a row, which also includes wins over BIG EAST foes Villanova (5-2) and Connecticut (4-3). All told, the Hoyas have won four of their last five matches, with the fourth win (7-0) coming versus Howard on April 6. Their lone loss in that stretch was a 4-3 defeat at James Madison on April 7. The Hoyas are coached by Gordon M. Ernst.

BIG EAST Championship History
The BIG EAST men’s tennis tournament dates back to the 1979 season when Boston College captured the inaugural championship, besting runner-up Georgetown, 16-14. From 1979-1994, the tournament was decided on an individual point-scoring basis, with players earning points towards the overall team score.

Following the 1994 season, the tournament switched to the current team championship format. This season’s contest marks the first time the championship will be held in Notre Dame, Ind., and the first time in six seasons that the tournament will be contested outside of Tampa, Fla.

Irish Conference Dominance
Since becoming a member of the BIG EAST Conference in the 1995-96 season, the Irish have reached the title match of the league tournament every season except one and have claimed seven titles. Nine members of the BIG EAST Conference – Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, South Florida, St. John’s, and Villanova – field teams in men’s tennis, but the league does not require round-robin competition during the season. NDâ⒬ˆhas an all-time record of 105-9 (.921) against those nine teams. Prior to joining the BIG EAST, the Irish won seven Midwestern Collegiate Conference titles from 1988-89 through 1994-95. All told, Notre Dame has earned 14 conference titles.

Notre Dame At The BIG EAST
Notre Dame faced Miami in eight straight BIGâ⒬ˆEASTâ⒬ˆfinals (1996-2003), before upsetting top-seeded Virginia Tech in 2004 and beating Rutgers in the ’05 title match. The Irish won three times (1996, `99, 2002) against the Hurricanes (who hosted the event until leaving the conference after the 2003-04 season). The 2003 final was rained out in progress, with conference policy awarding the NCAA automatic berth to the top-seeded Hurricanes. In 19 early-round matches (first round though semifinals), Notre Dame has sustained only one loss and the Irish have registered 18 shutouts. The Irish have been the top seed heading into the tournament ten times, while they were the No. 2 seed in 2000, ’04, ’09 and 2010. Notre Dame was the No. 3 seed in 2003.

2008 BIG EAST Championship Recap
Last year, Notre Dame downed the Hoyas in quarterfinal action but then fell to eventual champion USF in the semifinals, 4-1. Playing at the No. 3 position, Casey Watt came up with the lone Irish point versus the Bulls. Then, in the third place match, the Irish were edged by Louisville, 4-3, to finish fourth.

In the third place match versus UofL, the Irish scored points on singles wins from Watt (at No. 3), David Anderson (No. 5) and Tyler Davis (No. 6).

700 … And Counting
With Notre Dame’s 4-2 win over Middle Tennessee State on March 18 in the opening round of the 2010 Blue Gray Tennis Classic, Fighting Irish head coach Bobby Bayliss reached the 700-career wins milestone. Bayliss is now one of just four active Division I men’s coaches with at least 700 career wins. In a career that has now reached 41 seasons, Bayliss has ammassed a to-date record of 705-308-1 (.696), including a 414-205 mark in his 23 seasons leading the Notre Dame Fighting Irish program. Bayliss ranks eighth on the all-time men’s tennis collegiate coaching wins list, and is fourth among active coaches.

Last Time Out
The Irish closed out the regular season on a two-match winning streak. After downing Ball State (5-2) in their last regular season home match on April 14, the Irish travelled to Annapolis, Md. for just the second time in program history. Notre Dame came away with a 7-0 win on April 17 in a match played at Navy’s Hooper Brigade Sports Complex Outdoor Courts.

The Irish set the tone early with a doubles sweep, improving to 10-1 on the year when winning the doubles point. Fifty-first ranked Stephen Havens and Casey Watt earned the first doubles win at the No. 1 position and, at No. 3 doubles, David Anderson and Daniel Stahl secured the point with an 8-4 win.

The Irish took a 2-0 lead when Tyler Davis won in straight sets at No. 6 singles, pushing his dual season singles record to 4-1 with the win. At No. 3 singles, 93rd-ranked Stahl made the score 3-0 and Havens then clinched the win for the Irish with a victory at the No. 2 position. Samuel Keeton and Anderson added wins at fourth and fifth singles, respectively, before Watt closed out the match with a win at the No. 1 position.

Prior to the match, Bayliss was honored for his historic career, which recently saw him eclipse the 700-win plateau. Bayliss began his career at Navy, where he served as the Navy head coach for 15 years (1970-84). During that time span with Navy, Bayliss compiled an overall record of 248-50 and a 15-0 mark against Army.

One Tough Slate
Notre Dame has played a challenging schedule throughout the 2010 dual season. All told, the Irish have played 16 matches against ranked opponents (out of a possible 24). Notre Dame has also faced nine top-25 foes on the year and played against five of the ITA’s current top-15 teams in #2 Virginia, #4 Ohio State, #10 Texas A&M, #14 Illinois and #15 Louisville.

Notre Dame’s best win of the season in terms of beating a ranked opponent came on March 14 when the Irish knocked-off then 19th-ranked Florida State, 4-3, in a dramatic come from behind road win.