Jan. 27, 2006
RICHMOND, Va. – The 26th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (1-1) built a 3-2 advantage, but could not complete its upset bid, dropping a pair of third sets to lose 4-3 to #1 Virginia Friday in the Country Club of Virginia. The match came down to the top two singles matches, which both saw the Cavaliers win 6-4 final sets. The Irish will return to action on Sunday with their first home match of the spring, a 10 a.m. (EST) contest with #65 William & Mary in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
UVA senior Doug Stewart – who was ranked sixth nationally in singles in the preseason but did not play enough in the fall to qualify for the most-recent rankings – got a late service break at 4-4 in the third set en route to topping 14th-ranked sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 2, which put the match in the hands of the No. 1 players. After being down a service break at 3-4, 10th-ranked Somdev Devvarman of India won the final three games against eighth-ranked Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) to prevail 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the decisive match.
It was the second straight year that Notre Dame fell just shy of what would have been its highest-ranked win ever during the regular season (that distinction still jointly belongs to an upset of #4 LSU in 1992 and a win at #4 Duke in ’94). Last spring – in another match played at the Country Club of Virginia – the #2-ranked Cavs got a three-set win from Rylan Rizza over Bass in the final match on court to escape with a 4-3 win.
“We and Notre Dame are really starting a tradition of playing great 4-3 ?matches here in Richmond,” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “Notre ?Dame is a great team and it was a great match tonight. For the second ?straight year, the Country Club of Virginia provided a great atmosphere for ?this match, as the crowd tonight was amazing.”
Because the Country Club of Virginia has just four courts, the match featured a non-traditional order of contests. It began with the Nos. 5 and 6 singles matches, then switched gears with the doubles affairs, and concluded with the top four singles matches on court.
Junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) got the Irish off to a good start by defeating Virginia’s Nick Meythaler 7-5, 6-3 at No. 5 singles. The Cavs tied the score when Slovakian Marko Miklo, ranked 46th nationally in singles but playing No. 6 for UVA, defeated Irish senior captain Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) 6-3, 6-1.
The Cavs won the top two matches in doubles to go up 2-1. The point came down to the No. 2 match, where the 19th-ranked team in college tennis – Rizza and Darrin Cohen – prevailed 8-5 against Parbhu and freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.), who won in the same situation in ND’s 6-1 win over USC in the fall. Bass and senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) – who were teaming together for the first time this season – came through with an 8-3 triumph against Nick Meythaler and Eric Riley at No. 3 in the quickest match. UVA then won at No. 1, with the 35th-ranked duo of Devvarman and Treat Huey beating Keckley and junior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) 8-4 to put the fate of the doubles point in the hands of the No. 2 teams.
Helgeson tied the match with a monumental upset at No. 4 singles, winning 6-7, 6-1, 6-1 over Huey, who is #6 in the national singles rankings. It was the first collegiate win for Helgeson over a nationally-ranked player, and Huey is the highest-ranked singles player to lose to a Notre Dame student-athlete since Javier Taborga beat then-#3 K.J. Hippensteel of Stanford on Oct. 12, 2000, in the second round of the ITA All-American Championships. Helgeson is now 9-1 this season, including 2-0 in three-set affairs.
King put Notre Dame within a point of victory by knocking off 54th-ranked Rizza 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 at No. 3. He is unbeaten in two matches this spring after not playing collegiately during the fall. King improved to 8-4 in three-set matches when the dual-match is still undetermined.
The Irish had their two top players left on the court needing just one more point. Bass and Parbhu have been superb this season and are proven clutch players. Heading into Friday, the pair had combined for a 26-3 (.897) mark this season, as well as a 104-31 (.770) career record. They had been a combined 5-0 in three-setters in 2005-06, as well as 24-5 (.827) during their careers. Parbhu had an eight-match winning streak in singles dual play snapped, while Bass had won 14 in a row against lower-ranked players.
The match was a homecoming of sorts for Irish head coach Bob Bayliss, who grew up in Richmond and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and the University of Richmond, which inducted him into its athletics hall of fame in 2002. As a graduate student, he served as an assistant pro at the Country Club of Virginia. Bayliss continued to have tough luck coaching against UVA, as he holds a 1-6 career mark against the Cavaliers.
#1 Virginia 4, #26 Notre Dame 3SinglesNo. 1: #10 Somdev Devvarman (V) def. #8 Stephen Bass (ND) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4No. 2: Doug Stewart (V) def. #14 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4No. 3: Barry King (ND) def. #54 Rylan Rizza (V) 6-3, 6-7, 6-1No. 4: Brett Helgeson (ND) def. #6 Treat Huey (V) 6-7, 6-1, 6-1No. 5: Ryan Keckley (ND) def. Nick Meythaler (V) 6-2, 6-4No. 6: #46 Marko Miklo (V) def. Patrick Buchanan (ND) 6-3, 6-1Order of Finish: 5, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1*DoublesNo. 1: #35 Devvarman/Huey (V) def. Keckley/King (ND) 8-4No. 2: #19 Darrin Cohen/Rizza (V) def. Helgeson/Parbhu (ND) 8-5No. 3: Bass/Langenkamp (ND) def. Meythaler/Riley (V) 8-3Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*