Sept. 4, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame head coach Bobby Bayliss has signed a multi-year contract extension to continue as coach of the Fighting Irish men’s tennis program.
“I can’t emphasize enough how thrilled I am to finish my career at Notre Dame,” said the 21st-year head coach. “Coming here has allowed me to accomplish things that I never anticipated or imagined when I started my career in coaching. I was blessed with the opportunity to play for a national title, something all coaches aspire. I am so excited for the future of this program as well. We have such a strong and young talent base in place.”
Over the past 39 years, Bayliss has built a reputation as one of the top collegiate tennis coaches in the country. Few others have turned out so many exceptional players, had such great team success and earned as many honors.
“Bob Bayliss is simply one of the most accomplished and successful coaches in men’s collegiate tennis,” said Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick. “He has clearly built a tremendous program that remains one of the elite in the entire country.”
This past season, Notre Dame captured its second consecutive BIG EAST Conference title and eighth overall under Bayliss. The Irish did so despite the graduation of three of their top six players from 2006-07 and the inclusion of three freshmen into the six starting singles spots.
In 2007, Notre Dame reached the NCAA Round of 16 for the second straight year, finished with the most victories in a single season since 1980-81 and ended the campaign ranked sixth in the country (the highest season-ending ranking since being ranked third after the 1991-92 season). It marked the 11th time since 1989-90 that Notre Dame has been among the top 20 in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. It was the 17th consecutive year that the Irish were listed in the final ITA rankings. Notre Dame peaked at fourth (April 17) before closing the season with a 26-4 record.
His teams’ accomplishments speak for themselves. Bayliss has led the Irish to 17 NCAA Championship berths in the past 18 seasons and has helped his teams post 11 top-20 finishes in that time. Bayliss’ squads have 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. On 16 occasions, his teams have won conference titles.
The players who have played under him have had similar success, earning All-America honors 19 times and bringing home eight ITA national awards. A pair of Irish players and three Notre Dame doubles teams have earned national rankings in the top five under Bayliss. Six of his players have been 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 have been 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 recently served as the personal coach of Lindsay Davenport, formerly the top-ranked women’s player in the world. 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 eight former Irish players have gone on to play professionally since 1999.
Bayliss’ talent has not gone unnoticed among his peers, as he has been honored as national coach of the year twice. He also is a five-time Midwest Region coach of the year and has been named the top coach in his conference on 14 occasions. In 1995, he was honored with the Meritorious Service Award – previously bestowed upon just six coaches – for his extraordinary contributions to collegiate tennis and his service to the collegiate tennis community throughout his career.
He registered his 600th coaching victory on Feb. 18, 2005, against Northwestern — to become just the fifth active Division I coach to accomplish that feat. Bayliss has posted an overall record of 679-284-1 (.705) in 39 years of coaching, finishing with a winning record on all but one occasion. In 21 years at Notre Dame, Bayliss has a 388-181 (.682) record, and he helped Notre Dame become the seventh Division I school to register 1,000 all-time men’s tennis victories, with a 5-2 upset of #18 North Carolina on Jan. 29, 2005.
At Notre Dame, Bayliss remains responsible for much more than just providing the Irish with a winning men’s tennis record. He oversees the Eck Tennis Pavilion, and has been responsible for improving the Courtney Tennis Center and erecting stadium-type bleachers for that outdoor facility. 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 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. In 2002, Bayliss 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.