Junior Sheeva Parbhu.

Notre Dame Beats St. John's To Reach BIG EAST Final

April 22, 2005

TAMPA, Fla. – The top-seeded and 35th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (17-7) beat fifth-seeded St. John’s (6-12) 4-1 Friday morning in the BIG EAST Conference Championship at the University of South Florida. The Irish won the doubles point and then got straight-set victories in three of the four singles matches that were finished, advancing to the final – Saturday at 8:30 a.m. (EDT) vs. third-seeded Rutgers – for the 10th consecutive season.

Notre Dame won at Nos. 1 and 3 in doubles to take a 1-0 lead and then earned quick victories at Nos. 3, 4, and 5 in singles, losing no more than four games in any of the matches. St. John’s got its point from a two-set victory at No. 1, while the Irish had a match point to win at No. 6 and were just two games from prevailing at No. 2.

Freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) was a double winner, while sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) won in singles and his classmate, Irackli Akhvlediani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School), provided the clinching triumph. Senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]), junior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.), and sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) also won in doubles.

The Irish got a quick victory in doubles at No. 1, when the Red Storm’s Louis Desmarteaux – who also had to sit out the singles portion, where he normally plays No. 1 – could not continue, so he and Aurelio DiZazzo retired due to injury with D’Amico and Langenkamp leading 5-1. The Irish team snapped a three-match skid and won for the fourth time this season.

Clinching the doubles point were Bass and Parbhu, who defeated Claudio Halim and Nick Stocker 8-3 at No. 3. They have won three consecutive matches and earned their first clinching victory as a team.

Notre Dame was on its way to another win at No. 2, where King and sophomore Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) were ahead 6-4 against Morgan Bauer and David Nylen when the match was abandoned.

Parbhu was off the court fastest in singles, defeating Stocker, a native of England, 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4. The Irish rookie has won six straight and is 31-7 overall this season, including 19-3 in dual-match action. He is 18-4 in road matches (five straight wins) and 18-4 outdoors (also five straight wins).

King, ranked 114th in the nation, put the Irish a point away by finishing off Boris Chiporukha 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3. He is 25-9 this season, including 18-6 in dual action. King holds a 13-4 record away from home and is now 5-1 in his career against BIG EAST opponents.

Akhvlediani provided the clinching win for the third time in the last four Irish victories, defeating the Indonesian, Halim, 6-1, 6-3 at No. 5. He snapped a career-long three-match losing streak and improved to 26-13 this season, including 13-8 in dual action.

Junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) nearly provided the clinching victory, as he had a team match point at 5-3 in the second set. When Akhvlediani finished his match, Buchanan was serving for his, up 6-3, 5-4 against Bauer at No. 6.

D’Amico also was on the verge of winning his match, leading 6-4, 4-3 against the Frenchman, DiZazzo, at No. 2 when the contest was abandoned.

The Irish have won seven consecutive matches in the BIG EAST tournament, dating back to 2001.

Notre Dame improved to 4-0 all-time against St. John’s and extended its winning streak against current BIG EAST members to 19, as well as its winning streak vs. unranked teams to 20.

Rutgers and the Irish will meet for the sixth time, with all of the previous meetings 4-0 Notre Dame wins in the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament (1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, ’02).

The Irish will look to claim their fifth BIG EAST title, after winning it in 1996, ’99, 2002, and ’04.

[No. 1 seed] #35 Notre Dame 4, [No. 5 seed] St. John's 1SinglesNo. 1:  David Nylen (SJU) def. Stephen Bass (ND) 6-4, 6-0No. 2:  Brent D'Amico (ND) led Aurelio DiZazzo (SJU) 6-4, 4-3, abandonedNo. 3:  #114 Barry King (ND) def. Boris Chiporukha (SJU) 6-2, 6-2No. 4:  Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. Nick Stocker (SJU) 6-2, 6-1No. 5:  Irackli Akhvlediani (ND) def. Claudio Halim (SJU) 6-1, 6-3No. 6:  Patrick Buchanan (ND) led Morgan Bauer (SJU) 6-3, 5-4, abandonedOrder of Finish: 4, 3, 1, 5*SinglesNo. 1:  D'Amico/Eric Langenkamp (ND) def. Louis Desmarteaux/DiZazzo (SJU) 5-1, retiredNo. 2:  Ryan Keckley/King (ND) led Bauer/Nylen (SJU) 6-4, abandonedNo. 3:  S. Bass/Parbhu (ND) def. Halim/Stocker (SJU) 8-3Order of Finish: 1, 3*