Sept. 22, 2005
IRISH TO OPEN 2005-06 CAMPAIGN BY PLAYING HOST TO LONE HOME TOURNAMENT, THE TOM FALLON INVITATIONAL: The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team — which has back six of eight starters from last year’s team that was 18-8, won the BIG EAST championship, and earned an invitation to the NCAA tournament for the 14th time in 15 years — will open the 2005-06 campaign this weekend by playing host to its lone home tournament of the season, the 19th annual Tom Fallon Invitational, at the Courtney Tennis Center from Friday through Sunday, with action beginning at 8:30 a.m. (EST/CDT) each day. All 11 Irish players will be in action against players from seven other schools.
TFI FORMAT: The 19th annual Tom Fallon Invitational will take place at the Courtney Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame this weekend from Friday-Sunday. Eight teams will be participating: Army, Ball State, Drake, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Action will begin at 8:30 a.m. (EST/CDT) each day. A “hidden dual” match format will be used, meaning teams will play simulated dual matches, but there will be no official team scores for the matches. All results count for individual ranking purposes.
TFI SCHEDULE: See pdf for the tentative “hidden dual” schedule for the Tom Fallon Invitational:
TFI HISTORY: For the 37th consecutive fall, a number of tradition-steeped men’s tennis programs will converge on the Courtney Tennis Center to take part in the Tom Fallon Invitational. The event was born in the fall of 1970 when legendary Irish head coach Tom Fallon prevailed upon the Notre Dame athletic department to add a fall season to the men’s tennis schedule. The first of 18 Irish Invitationals took place that fall. When Fallon retired in 1987 after 31 years guiding the Notre Dame program, the event was renamed the Tom Fallon Invitational in his honor. Fallon compiled a 514-194 (.726) record and helped the Irish to a share of the 1959 national championship. He was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in `88. Initially conceived of as a dual-match tournament, the event was changed first to a series of singles and doubles flights and finally to a “hidden dual” format, in 2000. Teams play simulated matches against each other, but there are no team scores recorded. All individual results are counted for ranking purposes.
TFI FIELD: The field for the Tom Fallon Invitational features eight schools: Army, Ball State, Drake, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Wisconsin. All of them were listed in the final regional rankings last season, while four — Notre Dame (37th), Northwestern (47th), Michigan (54th), and Ball State (71st) — finished in the national rankings. The Irish, Wildcats, Wolverines, and Army all earned bids to the 2005 NCAA Championship. Ten singles players and two doubles teams from the schools are in the preseason edition of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings. See box on page one of this release for full listing.
LOCALS IN THE TFI FIELD: Three players on rosters of teams in the Tom Fallon Invitational hail from fewer than 100 miles away from Notre Dame: Irish junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) and Purdue juniors Eric Hodgman (Kalamazoo, Mich./Loy Norrix H.S.) and Matt Zollman (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.). There are also several players from the greater Chicago area in the tournament.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Bob Bayliss is in his 19th year at Notre Dame with a 327-157 (.677) record and his 37th year overall as a head coach, sporting a 609-251 (.709) mark. On Feb. 18, 2005, vs. Northwestern, he became just the fourth active NCAA Division I coach to reach 600 career victories. Bayliss has had just one losing season in his career and has seen his teams finish in the top 20 nine times in the past 16 years, advancing to the NCAA round of 16 on five occasions, highlighted by a quarterfinal appearance in 1993 and a national runner-up finish in ’92. He also is one of just three coaches in Division I to have led his current team to 14 NCAA tournaments over the last 15 seasons. Bayliss, named national coach of the year in 1980 and ’92, is a four-time ITA Midwest Region coach of the year and 12-time conference coach of the year (five times in the last eight years in the BIG EAST, including 2004 and `05). In his time at Notre Dame, Bayliss’ teams have won 12 conference titles, while his players have earned All-America honors 17 times, won eight national ITA awards, and earned 16 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 11 to the NCAA doubles tournament.
ND BOASTS FOUR RANKED SINGLES PLAYERS: After going through most of 2004-05 with one or no players in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national singles rankings, Notre Dame placed four in the preseason edition for 2005-06, released earlier this month. 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. Bass is the highest-ranked Irish player since Luis Haddock concluded his career at 74th at the end of the 2003-04 season. In addition, Barry King was among nine players listed as having “insufficient data” in order to be ranked, as he will not compete collegiately this fall.
A LOOK BACK AT 2004-05: Notre Dame finished 18-8 in 2004-05 and ranked 37th in the nation (fourth in the Midwest Region). The Irish beat St. John’s (4-0) and Rutgers (4-1) to win the BIG EAST championship for the fifth time overall and complete the first back-to-back titles for Notre Dame. ND earned its 14th bid to the NCAA tournament in the last 15 years and lost to Louisville — now a member of the BIG EAST — by a 4-1 score in the opening round. The Irish opened the season 6-0, upsetting #18 North Carolina (5-2) for the 1,000th victory in program history and knocking off eventual NCAA quarterfinalist Florida State (4-3). Those wins vaulted Notre Dame to a season-high 16th in the national rankings. The Irish were one of the deepest teams in the nation, ending up as the only squad among the top 45 to boast neither a top-100 singles player nor a nationally-ranked doubles team (60 are ranked). Sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) — the first sophomore since 1998 to play No. 1 singles for ND — finished ranked 120th in singles. Freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) was voted team MVP, and he finished with a 32-7 record in singles, while junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) became the fastest Irish player ever to register 20 singles victories, doing so on Jan. 29 en route to a 29-9 record. Senior Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) became the first ND player to go through a four-year career without having his team lose in the BIG EAST tournament and was named MVP of the `05 event. He also was the winner of the Midwest Region ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Sportsmanship and Leadership, as well as a CoSIDA Academic All-District V selection. He finished his career with 21 clinching wins in doubles, more than any other ND player since the statistic debuted in 1999. Bob Bayliss – who was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the second year in a row and fifth time in eight seasons – registered his 600th career victory on Feb. 18 vs. Northwestern, becoming just the fourth active coach to hit that milestone.
LANGENKAMP WINS ITA SUMMER NATIONALS, EARNS MAIN DRAW BID TO ALL-AMERICANS: Senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) claimed the singles title in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Summer Championships, presented by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) last month at Indiana University. Among the highlights of his run were wins against Steven Peretz (who played Nos. 4-6 for Michigan last spring), Ryan Preston (Nos. 4-5 for Vanderbilt in ’05), top-seeded Paul Rose (Purdue’s No. 1 player who is ranked 54th in the preseason ITA listing), Will Gray (Nos. 3-6 for Tulsa in ’05), and Eric Hechtman (Nos. 2-3 for Miami in `05). The championship earned Langenkamp – who combined with sophomore Yuichi Uda (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Laurel Springs School [CA]) to make Notre Dame the only school with two players among the final 16 in the singles draw – wild-card entry into the main draw of the first grand slam of the 2005-06 collegiate season, the Polo Ralph Lauren ITA All-American Championships, set for Oct. 6-9 in Tulsa, Okla. It was the first time an Irish player ever won the tournament, and Langenkamp will be the first ND participant in the singles main draw of the All-Americans since Casey Smith reached the second round in 2001.
LATE START: Notre Dame’s commencing with the 2005-06 season on Sept. 23 is one of the latest starts — by calendar date — in recent years. It is the latest opening day to the fall season since 2001-02, when ND began with the Tom Fallon Invitational on Sept. 28. That season was slated to begin on Sept. 14 in the Rice Invitational, but that tournament was cancelled due to the terrorist attacks on the United States earlier that week. The last time the Irish were scheduled to begin this late was 1999-2000, when Ryan Sachire lifted the lid on the campaign on Sept. 23 at the T. Rowe Price National Clay Court Championships. The last time the season opened with a full-team event at this late a date was in 1993-94, when the Tom Fallon Invitational started on Sept. 24.
CURRENT IRISH IN THE TFI: See pdf for the records of current Irish players in the Tom Fallon Invitational:
CURRENT IRISH IN FALL ACTION: See pdf for the records of current Irish players in fall play:
STREAKS: The following streaks are active heading into this weekend:
– Sheeva Parbhu has won six consecutive singles matches [last loss: 3/17/05 vs. Illinois’ Monte Tucker 6-2, 7-5 at No. 4 singles]
– Eric Langenkamp has won six consecutive singles matches [last loss: 10/30/04 vs. Miami’s Ryan Waits 6-3, 6-4 in Crimson Tide Fall Championships]
– Stephen Bass has won 28 consecutive matches when taking the opening set (35-1 career record) [only loss: 2/8/04 vs. Purdue’s David Robinson, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 1-0 (10-8)]
– Irackli Akhvlediani has won four consecutive fall matches [last loss: 10/29/04 vs. Alabama’s Billy Mertz 6-3, 6-2 in the Crimson Tide Fall Championships]
– Patrick Buchanan has won four consecutive fall matches [last loss: 10/24/04 vs. Indiana’s Jakub Praibis 6-2, 6-3 in the ITA Midwest Championships]
– Patrick Buchanan has lost eight consecutive match tiebreakers (career record: 1-8) [only win: 9/19/02 vs. William & Mary’s Alexander Fish 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-2)]
IRISH TO FACE SEVEN TOP-25 TEAMS: Seven teams that finished the 2004-05 campaign in the top 25 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings – including five that reached the final 16 of the NCAA Championship – highlight the 2005-06 schedule for the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team. In all, 18 of the 20 teams on Notre Dame’s schedule ended last year ranked among the top 75 in the nation, while 14 earned bids to the NCAAs. Among the top challenges on the Irish slate will be matches with USC (finished 21st, NCAA second round, Oct. 14, home, exhibition match), Virginia (5th, quarterfinals, Jan. 27, in Richmond, Va.), North Carolina (34th, first round, Feb. 4, away), Duke (9th, round of 16, Feb. 5, away), Illinois (6th, round of 16, Feb. 7, away), Ohio State (24th, second round, Feb. 24, home), Florida State (13th, quarterfinals, March 14, away), Texas (28th, second round, March 25, away), Texas A&M (18th, round of 16, March 26, away), and new BIG EAST rival Louisville (33rd, second round, April 13, home). Adding to the difficulty will be that ND will be at home for just two of those nine spring matches against squads that ended last season ranked among the top 35.
TAKE IT EASY: Notre Dame will have a relatively light fall schedule in 2005-06, taking part in just three events as a full team, plus the first two legs of the collegiate grand slam. After this weekend, ND will send one player to the Polo Ralph Lauren ITA All-American Championships, set for Oct. 6-9 in Tulsa, Okla. Then the Irish will face rival Southern California in an exhibition dual match on Oct. 14 and will compete in the ITA Midwest Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., from Oct. 20-25. ND may qualify a small number of players to the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, slated for Nov. 3-6 in Columbus, Ohio.
ND-USC TO CONTINUE “THE BATTLE BEFORE THE WAR”: On Friday, Oct. 14, Notre Dame and USC will meet in both men’s and women’s tennis in exhibition action the day before the schools do battle in football in Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the fourth consecutive time the squads have done this at Notre Dame the day before the football matchup, as well as the seventh time since 1989 that the men’s teams have hooked up under these circumstances.
CHANGES TO THE ITA RANKINGS: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) recently announced some changes to its national rankings for the 2005-06 season: (1) It will use one set of points for wins and also a tighter set of points, with less gaps. This set of points will be the same set that has been used for the season’s first computer rankings in the past; (2) There will be bonus points awarded for road wins; (3) The rankings that are run at the time of NCAA Championship selections will be run twice and the second run of the rankings will be the published ranking; (4) There will be expanded, unpublished rankings (and values for opponents): 76-125 for team, 126-175 for singles, and 61-90 for doubles; (5) The first computer rankings (for team) will take place 2 weeks earlier on March 8; (6) The singles and doubles rankings from Fall results will go back to being a computer ranking; it had been done by committee vote the past three years.
KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.email@example.com, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.