April 13, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 6 Notre Dame men’s tennis team closes out the regular season on the road Saturday afternoon against BIG EAST rival Louisville. First-serve at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The meeting is the first since the Cardinals knocked off the Irish in last year’s title match of the BIG EAST Conference Championship.
Notre Dame (20-3), having already secure the program’s first 20-win season since 2001-02, will look for its fourth consecutive victory and 15th in its last 16 matches. The match is the second straight against a team from the Bluegrass State. The Irish breezed past No. 54 and Louisville archrival Kentucky on Wednesday, 7-0.
Notre Dame has taken five of the seven all-time meetings with the Cardinals, including a 5-2 triumph during the regular season meeting a year ago. Louisville returned the favor just 11 days later and remains one of two (Miami, Fla. being the other) BIG EAST foes to ever defeat the Irish.
Saturday’s match will feature several ranked sing players and doubles teams. Slavko Radman, ranked 60th in singles, is the lone Cardinal player ranked. #9 Stephen Bass (Sr./Bronxville, NY), #51 Sheeva Parbhu (Jr./Omaha, NE) and #114 Brett Helgeson (So./Overland Park, KS) lead Notre Dame.
In doubles, Louisville’s tandem of Radman and Damar Johnson are ranked ninth. Ryan Keckley (Sr./South Bend, IN) and Parbhu are ranked 20th, but will most likely not play together.
Irish-Cardinals Series Notes: Notre Dame and Louisville will meet for the third consecutive season and the eighth time overall, with the Irish holding a 5-2 advantage in the all-time series … this is just the third-ever trip for Notre Dame to Louisville, and the first since 1963 … the rivals split their two meetings last season … Notre Dame took the regular season matchup (5-2), but Louisville captured the BIG EAST Tournament Championship with a 4-1 win … the Cardinals prevented the Irish from their third straight BIG EAST Championship … Louisville won the doubles point and appeared to be on its way to a decisive victory when it took the opening set in all but one singles match … the Irish fought back and forced third sets in five matches, while the Cards got a tight straight-set win at No. 6 to go up 2-0 … five of the six singles matches were decided by third sets, with Louisville taking two of the three that were completed … following a 16-year hiatus, the series resumed in 2005, as #33 Louisville won a 4-1 decision over the 32nd-ranked Irish in the opening round of the NCAA Championship in Urbana, Ill. … the doubles point came down to a tiebreaker at No. 1, where Jeremy Clark and Jakob Gustafsson beat Brent D’Amico and Eric Langenkamp 9-8 (7-5) to put Louisville up 1-0 … in singles, the Cards got straight-set wins at Nos. 3 and 5 and a three-set victory at No. 1 to clinch the win … Notre Dame’s lone point came in a two-set win at No. 4 singles … the No. 2 match was in a third set, and the No. 6 match was in a second-set tiebreaker … the schools first played in 1957 at Notre Dame, with the Irish prevailing 9-0 … a year later, ND won 9-0 in Louisville, and the Irish prevailed 8-1 there in 1963 … the teams met again in 1988, with Notre Dame winning by a 6-0 score in Carbondale, Ill. … this is Notre Dame’s only regular-season match against a BIG EAST Conference opponent this season.
Louisville is 8-13 this season and, similar to Notre Dame, have yet to play a BIG EAST foe. The Cardinals are ranked No. 58 in the most recent ITA rankings.
Radman plays No. 1 singles for Louisville and is 12-5 at the position so far this spring and 18-9 overall. He leads the Cardinals in both overall and dual-match victories. Johnson plays No. 2 singles and is 9-8 at the position, 11-9 in dual action and 16-15 overall.
Rex Ecarma, a graduate of Louisville in 1988, is in his 17th season at the helm of the Cardinals. He is 249-189 over his entire coaching career, all of which has been spent at Louisville.
Last Time Out
The No. 6 Notre Dame men’s tennis team reached the 20-win plateau for the first time since 2002 following a 7-0 victory over No. 54 Kentucky on Senior Day inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion on April 11. The Irish improve to 20-3 on the season, while the Wildcats drop to 13-13.
Notre Dame got singles wins from all three seniors in the lineup and each also picked up victories in doubles.
The Irish have won 20 or more matches on 14 different occasions in the 84-year history of the program. The Irish last reached 20 wins during the 2001-02 season when they finished the season at 23-7. Notre Dame also finished the regular season undefeated inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion (9-0). The Irish have posted back-to-back undefeated regular seasons at home for the first time in school history. In fact, Notre Dame has only gone unbeaten over an entire regular season at home on three previous occasions.
No. 1 – #9 Stephen Bass (ND) def. Bruno Agostinelli (UK); 7-5, 6-3
No. 2 – #51 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. Peter Bjork (UK); 6-4, 3-1, ret.
No. 3 – #114 Brett Helgeson (ND) def. Marcus Sundh (UK); 7-6 (2), 6-2
No. 4 – Barry King (ND) def. Jorge Jorge (UK); 6-4, 6-3
*No. 5 – Ryan Keckley (ND) def. Kenny Hodge (UK); 6-3, 6-1
No. 6 – Andrew Roth (ND) def. Shane Collins (UK); 6-0, 6-1
Order of Finish: 6,4,5,2,3,1
* clinching point
*No. 1 – Keckley/Bass (ND) def. Agostinelli/Hodge (UK); 8-5
No. 2 – Parbhu/Helgeson (ND) def. Sundh/Bjork (BSU); 6-3, DNF
No. 3 – King/Roth (ND) def. Will Ward/Collins (UK); 8-6
Order of Finish: 3,1
* clinching point
— ND —