Sheeva Parbhu (left) and Brett Helgeson will lead the Irish into NCAA play beginning Saturday.

Notre Dame Looks To Rebound, Hosts Ball State and William & Mary This Weekend

April 3, 2008

Match Details: #34 Notre Dame (10-8) vs. Ball State (8-10)        Friday, April 4, 2008, 4:00 p.m.        Courtney Tennis Center, Notre Dame, IN
#34 Notre Dame (10-8) vs. #63 William & Mary (12-10) Sunday, April 6, 2008, 10:00 a.m. Courtney Tennis Center, Notre Dame, IN

Notre Dame looks to rebound after dropping four straight: The Notre Dame men’s tennis team will be looking to win its first match since March 13 when it takes the court in its first outdoor home match Friday against Ball State. The Irish have dropped matches to Tulsa (4-0), Boise State (4-3), Kentucky (4-2) and Ohio State (6-1) since a win in the opening round of the Blue Gray Tennis Classic last month. Notre Dame has not lost four straight matches since 2003 when they dropped four in a row to Indiana, Ohio State, Illinois, and Florida State.

A bright spot for Notre Dame last time out was the doubles play of Brett Helgeson and Sheeva Parbhu who earned their best win of the season over the Buckeyes, defeating Matt Allare and Mike O’Connell, ranked 25th at the time, by a 9-7 count.

Men take part in rare tennis doubleheader: Irish tennis fans will have the rare opportunity to see both the men’s and women’s team play in home matches on the same day this Sunday. The men will take on the Tribe of William & Mary at 10:00 a.m. before the women challenge the Orange of Syracuse at 12:00 p.m. Both matches are scheduled to be played outside with the Eck Pavilion designated as the rain site. Sunday will mark the first time that both the men’s and women’s teams have played at home on the same day since May 12 of last season. That Saturday, the men defeated Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA tournament and the women bested UIC in the first round of the same tournament. Both Irish wins came by 4-0 scores.

Scouting the Cardinals: Ball State has had an up-and-down season that has seen them win consecutive matches only twice this season. The Cardinals have also struggled away from home, winning just one of six road matches. That win came in their last contest Monday afternoon at Chicago State, a shutout win for the Cardinals. Ball State has faced five ranked opponents this season and has mustered just two team points, losing all five decisions.

Eduardo Pavia and Shaun Bussert lead the Cardinals with nine singles wins this spring. They are two of only three Ball State players with winning singles records this season. Bussert has posted an impressive 9-1 mark at the bottom of the lineup. Jose Perdomo and Jorge Rodriguez play No. 1 doubles for Ball State and lead the team with a 7-4 record. As a team, the Cardinals have posted a 25-23 record in paired play this year.

Series against Ball State: Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Ball State 32-5. The Irish have captured each of the last 17 meetings with the Cardinals including a 7-0 win last year in Muncie. The last Ball State win came in the 1989 season, a 7-2 Cardinal home victory. Notre Dame has been the higher ranked team in each match with Ball State since rankings were established in the 1990 season.

Scouting the Tribe: William & Mary has been a streaky team this season, as the Tribe put together a five match winning streak in early February but has recently lost six of their last seven contests with all losses coming at the hands of ranked teams. The Tribe had a stretch in March when they lost three consecutive matches to #3 Georgia, #8 Tulsa, and #49 NC State all in shutouts. An NCAA qualifier and third place finisher in the CAA a year ago, William & Mary earned one of their best wins of the year in the final match of the Blue-Gray Classic, a 4-1 win over #46 Oklahoma.

The Tribe is led by Alex Cojanu who has posted a 9-9 mark this season at No. 1 singles. The senior fell to Notre Dame’s top two players, Parbhu and Helgeson each in straight sets at last fall’s Tribe Invitational hosted by William & Mary. Cojanu has lost four of his last five matches, all against ranked foes. He and doubles partner Keziel Juneau are ranked #39 in the country and have recorded wins over the #14 and #21 teams in the country this spring. The pair also defeated the #2 team of Bruch and Muller from Stanford in a first round upset at the ITA All-American Indoor Championships last fall. The duo is 10-8 this season.

Series against William & Mary: The Irish hold a 6-1 advantage in the all-time series over the Tribe and have won the last six meetings. The lone William & Mary win came in 1978 when the Tribe bested the Irish 7-2 in South Bend. Notre Dame and William & Mary have met three times on neutral soil including matchups in the 2005 and 2006 Blue Gray Classic. The Irish won 4-3 in ’05 and 4-0 in ’06. Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss has never lost to the Tribe, owning a 15-0 record that dates back to his days at MIT and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Rankings Update: Notre Dame fell to #34 in the most recent ITA poll, its lowest ranking of the season. Brett Helgeson remained the Irish’s highest ranked singles player at #42. The junior was joined in the singles rankings by senior captain Sheeva Parbhu, who is ranked #93. The pair also made their season debut in doubles at #54. They are the first Notre Dame team to earn a doubles ranking this season.