Casey Watt had two singles victories on day two of the Illinois Invitational.

Men's Tennis Set For NCAA First Round Play

May 6, 2009


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The Irish men’s tennis team is one of 64-teams in the NCAA tournament field pursuing a trip to Texas A&M where the round of 16 through the finals will take place. Notre Dame will play Michigan in a first round matchup in Columbus, Ohio. The match will take place on May 8 at 10:00 a.m., with the hosts from Ohio State playing a first round match versus Xavier on Friday as well. The first round winners will then meet at noon on the following day for the right to advance to the NCAA round of 16.

For the tenth consecutive year, the NCAA men’s tennis Championship features a field of 64 teams, consisting of 31 automatic-qualifying conference champions and 33 at-large selections. The first and second rounds will take place May 8-10 at 16 campus sites. The winner of the second-round matches will advance to College Station, Texas, with Texas A&M playing host to the final four rounds of the tournament at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center from May 14-24.

By virtue of their at-large selection, the Irish have now qualified for the NCAA Division I Championship 18 times in the last 19 seasons. Michigan was also an at-large selection to the field, and enters with a 13-14 overall record. The Wolverines are one of only three men’s teams to enter the tournament with a sub .500 record. Ohio State is the No. 3 overall seed and will face Xavier in the other first round match in Columbus, Ohio. The team that emerges from the Columbus regional will take on the winner from the Alabama regional, which includes Alabama, Furman, Boise State and Middle Tennessee.

2009 NCAA First & Second Rounds
Stickney Tennis Center — Columbus, Ohio

Friday, May 8 NCAA 1st Round, 10 a.m. (EST): Notre Dame (13-12) vs. Michigan (13-14)

NCAA 1st Round, 1:00 p.m. (EST): [No. 3 Seed] Ohio State (31-1) vs. Xavier (17-7)

Saturday, May 9 NCAA 2nd Round, Noon (EST): Winners of 1st Round matches

Following The Irish At The Championship
Daily recaps will be posted at along with complete box scores. Live scoring will be available through Ohio State’s NCAA tournament central page, accessed through the men’s tennis page at

The Michigan Matchup
On March 4, 2009, the Irish played host to the Wolverines inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame won five of the six singles matches to produce a convincing 5-2 win after dropping the doubles point. The storied rivals have not met in NCAA tournament play since the 2002 season when the Irish earned a 4-0 win in the NCAA Region IV semifinals, played in Notre Dame, Ind.

All-time, the Wolverines hold 42-28 series advantage over the Irish. Michigan leads the series behind the strength of a 27-year unbeaten steak stretching from 1962-89. But since 1990, the Irish have posted an 18-4 record versus the Wolverines to close the series gap.

The teams first met in 1923, when UM earned a 5-0 win. Under current head coach Bobby Bayliss, the Irish lead the series by a 17-5 margin.

Scouting The Wolverines
Michigan joins Notre Dame as an at-large selection to the 64-team NCAA tournament field. The Wolverines carry a 13-14 overall record and are one of only three teams to enter the tournament with a sub .500 record. Michigan won seven of its last nine matches to vault up to 35 in the ITA rankings and secure a place in the NCAA field.

Most recently, Michigan fell to Ohio State by a 4-1 margin in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament on April 25. Prior to the match with Ohio State, Michigan had won four straight, including a 4-3 win over 11th-ranked Illinois on April 18.

Sophomore Jason Jung, currently 93rd in the ITA singles rankings, has led the Wolverines from No. 1 singles for the majority of the season. He carries an 8-12 mark from that position. Freshman Drew Daniel leads Michigan in Dual Season wins, as he has recorded 18 victories between fifth and sixth singles. Jung and junior Mike Sroccynski are 37th in the ITA doubles rankings.

Irish In The NCAA Championship
The Irish have been invited to 18 of the last 19 NCAA Tournaments, making them one of just 11 schools to have accomplished that feat, along with Duke, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Pepperdine, Stanford, Texas, TCU, UCLA, and USC. Head coach Bobby Bayliss is one of only two Division I coaches – along with Georgia’s Manuel Diaz – to have led his current team to at least 18 NCAA bids in the last 19 years.

Notre Dame has reached the round of 16 in the NCAAs on seven occasions, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 1992 and a 1993 quarterfinal result. The Irish lost in the opening round in 2004, ’05 and ’08, but reached the Round of 16 in 2006 and ’07. Overall the Irish are 16-17 in NCAA tournament play including 6-12 on neutral courts and 3-1 against teams playing on their home court.

Notre Dame won the NCAA Championship in 1959, along with Tulane, when the tournament was based on points gained from individual singles and doubles victories. The Irish also tied with Texas and Miami (Fla.) to win the national title in 1944, when only wins from the quarterfinals or later counted as team points. Notre Dame finished in the top 10 at the NCAAs 17 times from 1943-67.

In 1977, the NCAA Championship became a 20-team event with all teams picked on an at-large basis. In 1994, the event developed into a regional format with the top eight teams in the country and eight regional winners advancing to a bracket of 16, which was played at a national site. In 1999, the championship expanded to 64 teams, dropping the regional format and implementing first and second-round matches at 16 campus sites for every team in the championship.

Brett Helgeson and Casey Watt were named to the 2009 All-BIG EAST men’s tennis team.

In year’s past, the BIG EAST honored an All-Tournament team, but the format was switched to an All-BIG EAST team for the 2009 season. The league’s coaches voted for the three major awards, namely the Player of the Year, the Rookie of the Year and the Coach of the year, as well as for the All-BIG EAST Team. When the votes were tallied, Helgeson and Watt were two of 12 All-BIG EAST selections, with Helgeson earning the additional honor of being one of five unanimous selections.

Helgeson, currently 31st in the ITA singles rankings, led the Irish from the No. 1 singles position for the second consecutive season. He carries a 12-10 singles record on the year. In addition, he plays first doubles with sophomore Tyler Davis. The duo is currently 30th in the ITA rankings and has posted a 14-10 record on the year. Helgeson was also a two-time BIG EAST Player of the Week this season.

Watt is in the midst of an impressive rookie campaign with the Irish. He leads the squad in wins, having posted an 18-5 singles record thus far. He began the season at fourth singles, where he went 10-3. He then moved up to third singles, but continued to pile up wins, posting an 8-2 record in the No. 3 spot. He was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on March 25. He is one of three freshmen on the 2009 All-BIG EAST team.

Helgeson Earns Second Consecutive NCAA Championship Bid
Senior co-captain Brett Helgeson was named to the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship field it was announced by the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Subcommittee on April 29. Helgeson will participate in the 64-player singles draw, which will be conducted May 20-25 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas, following the conclusion of the team championship (May 14-19 at the same site). Texas A&M University will serve as the host.

Helgeson is making his second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Singles Championship. In 2008, he defeated Harvard’s Chris Clayton 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the Round of 32. But in the second round, he fell to Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State, 6-3, 6-2.

Currently ranked 31st, Helgeson’s at-large selection for the 2009 draw gives Notre Dame 15 all-time competitors in the event who have combined for 24 appearances. He joins former teammates Stephen Bass and Sheeva Parbhu (2006-07), as well as current associate head coach Ryan Sachire (1997-00), Mike Sprouse (1995-96), Andy Zurcher (1992 & 1994) and David DiLucia (1990-92) as players to appear in the singles championship on more than one occasion for the Irish. In 2006, Parbhu earned Notre Dame’s best finish, as he was able to reach the quarterfinals.

In doubles play, Helgeson and Tyler Davis have been named the fourth alternate team to the 32-team doubles field. The teammates have combined for a 14-10 record this season, with all 24 starts coming at No. 1 doubles. Currently ranked 30th in the nation, the duo has an 8-8 mark versus nationally ranked competition. They have heated up as of late, posting a 7-3 mark over their last 10 matches.

One Tough Slate:16 UND Opponents Earn NCAA Bids
Notre Dame played one of the most difficult schedules in the country in 2009 that included seven matches versus a top-20 ranked opponent. Of Notre Dame’s 23 dual season opponents this spring, 16 of them earned berths in the NCAA Championship: Virginia (No. 1 seed), Ohio State (3 seed), Illinois (13 seed), Texas A&M (15 seed), Florida State (16 seed), Boise State, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Northwestern, Pepperdine, South Florida, Texas Tech, Tulsa and Wisconsin. The Irish went 7-12 against those 16 teams, having played Wisconsin, Louisville and the University of South Florida twice.

Youth Movement
The Irish feature one of the youngest lineups that Bobby Bayliss has coached in his 39 years in collegiate tennis. Aside from senior Brett Helgeson, who has played No. 1 singles for the Irish all season, singles positions 2-6 have been filled by freshmen and sophomores all season long.

The Irish have combined for a 78-59 singles record in the 2009 dual season. Of the 78 wins, 66 have come from the freshmen and sophomore classes (85%). All-BIG EAST performer Casey Watt, who has accounted for 18 wins, leads the team in singles wins. Sophomore Daniel Stahl has added 11 wins, while his classmate Stephen Havens has 10 wins on the season. Other sophomores chipping in with wins include David Anderson, who has nine, and Tyler Davis, who has five. Freshman Samuel Keeton netted seven wins in his first season with the Irish.

Head Coach Bobby Bayliss
Head coach Bobby Bayliss is in his 22nd year at the helm of the Irish men’s tennis program, and his 39th overall year as a Division I head coach. In Notre Dame’s regular season finale, the Irish beat Ball State, 7-0 on Monday, April 13. The win marked the 400th of Bayliss’ career as the head coach at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has now reached the NCAA Championship Tournament for the 18th time in the last 19 seasons, all under Bayliss. Last season, he also led the Irish the program’s seventh BIG EAST Tournament Championship. Bayliss was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and the seventh time in the last 11 years. After posting an overall record of 16-11, including a 4-3 win over No. 13 Florida State on April 26, the Irish finished the season ranked 29th. It was the 18th consecutive year that the Irish were listed in the final ITA rankings.

Last season, Bayliss was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and the seventh time in the last 11 years. To date at Notre Dame, Bayliss has posted a 400-191 record (.677), giving him a career Division I head coaching record of 691-296-1 (.700) over 39 seasons. He has helped Irish players earn All-America honors on 20 occasions. His squads have won 17 league championships and finished in the national top-20 in 12 different seasons.

One For The (Record) Books
On March 29, the Irish (ranked 27th at the time) knocked off ninth-ranked Illinois, 4-3, in their final home match of the season. In that match, Notre Dame claimed the doubles point and also received singles wins from Daniel Stahl, Brett Helgeson and David Anderson to claim the win. With the match locked at 3-3, Anderson held serve to clinch the win for the Irish at fifth singles. The win marked Notre Dame’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent since April 1, 2007 when then fifth-ranked Notre Dame defeated eighth-ranked Illinois, 5-2, also at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. In addition, it was Notre Dame’s first win over a top-10 opponent while not being ranked in the ITA top-20 since February 16, 1997 when 29th-ranked Notre Dame defeated eighth-ranked Duke, 4-3.

Notre Dame’s Record When…

Winning @ #1 singles                    11-1Winning @ #2 singles                    8-2Winning @ #3 singles                    11-3Winning @ #4 singles                    12-4Winning @ #5 singles                    8-5Winning @ #6 singles                    9-4Winning the doubles point           10-2David Anderson records a singles win     6-3Tyler Davis records a singles win       3-2Niall Fitzgerald records a singles win        5-1Stephen Havens records a singles win     8-2Brett Helgeson records a singles win     11-1Sam Keeton records a singles win        4-3Daniel Stahl records a singles win     9-2Casey Watt records a singles win        11-7Playing at home                     7-3Playing on the road             4-6Playing at a neutral site           3-2Playing a top-20 opponent           3-6

— ND —